This morning Barns Green lost a much loved VP in Chris 'Captain' Heap who sadly passed away last night from a long battle with illness.
Chris Heap, or Captain Chris as he was famously called due to his time at sea, was a much loved and popular member of the Vice Presidents of Barns Green RFC. He could be found on the touchline cheering the boys on as well as attending many of the VP lunches held over the years. He was also part of the welcoming party in Guernsey when the boys flew over to play St Jacques in 2019 where he was a fantastic host for the traveling VPs. Gwilym Jennett became a very close friend to Chris over the last few years and recalls a famous story: 'Back in the 90’s I think, he was captain of a ship ferrying a cargo of wood from Scandinavia to Newport, South Wales. Just off the coast of St Ives they were caught in a force 10 and the ship was hit broadside by a wave of “ Poseidon Adventure" proportions. Chris was on the bridge at the time and saw the wave go totally over the ship. It moved all the wood and left the vessel listing badly in the middle of the night in awful conditions. Helicopters from RNAS Culdrose were scrambled as were lifeboats from Penzance, St Ives, Newlyn and Falmouth. All crew were safely airlifted from the ship and Captain Chris stayed at the bridge on his own and steered the vessel safely into port at first light after weathering the storm. The newspapers the next day were filled with the story although he wouldn't be one to boast about his heroics. An example of a man who, with good humor, took the flack of Albert Bridge and telegraph poles. He knew from the very start that he was on a life-limiting journey but never complained or asked “why me “ once.'
There are many stories like this one about Chris both heroic and comedic in equal measure. He will be hugely missed by everyone at Barns Green RFC and we will spare a thought for him as the team runs out for their first game of the season. Our thoughts are with his many friends and family at this difficult time and we're sure a few glasses will be raised this evening. To Captain Chris!