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Tragic death of runner in Norwich half-marathon

Phillip Goillau.

Phillip Goillau.

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Emotional tributes have today been paid to a well-loved former Dereham Northgate High School and Dereham Sixth Form College student who collapsed and died while taking part in the Norwich half-marathon.

Phillip Goillau, 25, grew up in Dereham and has many relatives and friends in the town and surrounding area.

His brother James said that he was taking part in the charity run on Sunday in preparation for a mammoth 12 marathons in 12 months next year to raise money towards a school bus for special needs children.

He said his brother had previously run the Norwich and Coventry half-marathons.

The family and girlfriend Gina Steggall were too upset to talk in depth yesterday but dozens of tributes were posted to Mr Goillau’s Facebook page.

Director of Dereham Sixth Form College, Phyllis O’Grady said: “We are deeply saddened by the sudden death of Phillip. Our thoughts are with his family at this difficult time.”

Mr Goillau was a keen hockey player and had been a member of Dereham Hockey Club since he was a schoolboy.

The club’s chairman Kay Edwards said: “He was a loyal member for quite a few years. He coached the ladies’ second team for me, but he was not playing at the moment, as he had undergone knee surgery. If he had been playing he would have been in the men’s first or second teams. He was a very lovely young man.”

After leaving Dereham Sixth Form college Mr Goillau attended Coventry University where he continued to play hockey and captained the university’s team.

After school he had also worked at Morrisons in Dereham and one of his friends there was too upset to go to work yesterday.

Mr Gouillau was training to be a teacher at Notre Dame High School in Norwich and candles were lit in his memory.

Students at Notre Dame also paid tribute, and said in an email: “We called him Mr G, he was our trainee ICT teacher. He was so nice and a really good teacher and now he’s gone everyone at Notre Dame misses him. Many of us have prayed in the chapel in our respect to Mr G. You are greatly missed, love from the students.”

The school’s headteacher Brian Conway said that students had lit candles in the school’s chapel, and added: “Phillip was a talented young man and as a school we are shocked and deeply saddened. Our thoughts are with his family and friends. In the short time he was here he made a deep impression on the students. We will miss him terribly.”

Mr Goillau took part in the 13-mile run with a friend but collapsed around the 10-mile mark, and lost consciousness for unknown reasons.

He never regained consciousness and was subsequently pronounced dead at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.

Friend Richard Timm, who lives just outside Norwich, said: “It’s such a tragic loss. I would just echo what everybody else is saying. Everyone had a good word to say about him.

“He did not have health issues, to my knowledge. He was in perfect health and was an athletic young man.”

The race director Hugh McGill said that Mr Goillau collapsed during the race, which was held between 11am and 2pm, near Easton College. He was treated at the scene by paramedics from crews based at the college, before being taken to the N&N.

Mr McGill, who is also a member of the City of Norwich Athletics Club, said: “As an athletics club, as a community of runners, and as the team that put on the half-marathon, we are completely devastated by the tragic loss of a young life.”

Meanwhile, Daniel Ingman said on Mr Goillau’s Facebook page: “A true friend, great guy and will be missed by many. I’m totally gutted but was an honour to be your mate.”

Another friend Adam Jackson said: “So much of life, no matter how strong it looks, is remarkably fragile. God keep you Phill.”


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