Published: July 20, 2012
Tributes paid to Olympic fencing coach who lived in Burnham-On-Sea

Tributes have been paid to a world-renowned fencing coach from Burnham-On-Sea who died in a horror road crash just days after his top student was selected for the Olympic Games.

Professor James Perry, 65, who has tutored many of Britain’s top fencers, was killed in a crash near Burnham last Friday when his Ford Mondeo collided with a VW Golf.

The accident came after the fencing expert’s top student James Davis – who he has been teaching since the age of 12 – was selected to represent Team GB.

Devastated James has this week paid tribute to his coach and said he would like to follow in Professor Perry’s footsteps by becoming a world-class fencing coach.

"I only hope when I start coaching I can teach his way of fencing to a new generation that will thrive off his work, as I have done."

"He will always be remembered as the greatest coach I ever worked with; someone who devoted so much of his time to one pupil so that one day he could see them shine."

"I hope I made him proud of all that I achieved and that he knew so much of my success was due to what he instilled in me."

The sports tutor, who lived in Burnham, was a qualified full Master of the British Academy of Fencing and professor in the art of fencing.

He wrote a coaching manual, Coaching Today, and also set up his own fencing club, called Excalibur International, which was based in Winscombe.

Prof Perry also sat on the committee of the British Academy of Fencing for six years and gained a top fencing accolade of Academie D’armes International.

He died at the scene of the crash on the Causeway outside Middlemoor Water Park last Friday.

His wife Jacqui, who was married to him for ten years, said he was on his way to teach at one of his favourite schools, Sturminster Newton, in Dorset, at the time of the accident.

She said her husband, who was known as Jim, had told her how proud he was that 21 year-old James Davis had made it into the British team and is due to compete in the Foil Individual and Team events.

Mrs Perry said: "He ranked number one in Great Britain and Jim has been training James since he was 12. He became a mentor for him, not just for fencing but as a role model."

"Jim’s been fencing since he was 19. It was his love and he was brimming with pride and happiness. It was his dream come true to have someone he taught represent Britain at the Olympics."

Multi-talented Professor Perry was also a professional ski-instructor, Arctic warfare, survival and adventure training instructor and mountain expedition leader.

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