On Friday I received the very sad news of John Hardings passing which I gather was peaceful. I have waited until now to post about it, as I feel that I am less well equipped to do so than many others who have known him for longer or who had spent time with him more recently.

John was an enormous influence on my life, on fencing in my home county of Hereford and Worcestershire, and through his students he will continue to influence the lives and careers of young fencers across the world for a long time to come.

I first knew John as the fencing coach of Malvern Classic Foil Club which was his labour of love for many years. We changed venue many times from church hall to school to sports centre and back again over my time there. John kept the club running, almost certainly at a loss, and through it taught his own special ideology of fencing and in fact sport in general.

It was at Malvern Classic Foil Club (where electric scoring apparatus was not allowed) that I learned to fence, to referee and in no small way how to coach. John had a contagious enthusiasm, and was a perfectionist who relished the journey far more than the destination.

I am told that long before my time John was a very successful competitive coach by intention. He continued to be so as a side effect for many more years after his attention shifted to the artistry and skills of fencing above the medals. His last competitively successful fencer being Alexander Lloyd who started fencing in Worcester after John had had to stopped coaching in Malvern when he stopped driving.

During my time I remember bringing in a small number of medals at local events, but the picture of me in the newspaper 'wasn't a very good lunge' and that was what John cared about. Unfortunately despite his best efforts it still isn't that great, but I do take extra care to ensure my students learn it the way John taught it and not the way I performed it!

I did not realise it at the time, but John had nailed down the ideas made famous by Gladwell (10,000 hours of practice) and by Coyle (deliberate practice) and in many respects was therefore the best coach any young fencer could ever wish for. The qualities of a true master coach are defined as specific knowledge, the ability to convey that knowledge effectively, and an ability to ignite (inspire or enthuse) athletes. John certainly possessed all of these along with a wicked sense of humour and a penchant for stopping mid training session so everyone could have tea and biscuits and a chat.

Malvern Classic Foil Club was where I first developed my passion for the sport, it was where my father first started fencing and where I met many of the people who are still coaching fencing in Malvern today, including John Rees and Simon Webb. The modern Malvern Hills Fencing Club owes a great deal to the era when we all first met and were inspired by John and his love for the sport.

John's legacy is greater than the sum of his achievements, in that it is the ideas and enthusiasm that he passed on to myself and to so many others over the years. It was a real pleasure to introduce John (at the Birmingham international) to Amy Radford as GB's first fencing Youth Olympian knowing what a huge part he played in my development and therefore hers (lucky for me he did not look to closely at her lunge!!).

More recently one of my students here in China has been training with Ziemek in London where he met and was greatly inspired by John's last great student Alexander Lloyd. I am confident that John and his wonderful approach to the sport of fencing will continue to has influence all across the world and for many more years, I will certainly treasure both my memories of him as a person and the many lessons that he taught me more than two decades ago that still impact my life today.

I am one of a great many people in fencing you will have fond memories of John, I would encourage others to share there experiences and memories of this wonderful man.