Richard Spraggs farewelled in style

By Kiri Gillespie


Richard Spraggs' coffin was adorned with flowers, sand and the word "bugger!" - a nod to the keen yachtsman's sense of humour.

About 300 people gathered in loud Hawaiian shirts, jandals and summer dresses to farewell Mr Spraggs at Mount Maunganui Surf Life Saving Club yesterday.

The former surf shop designer died after hitting his head and falling overboard from his yacht during a storm in Phuket, Thailand, on January 26.

The mood among mourners was mostly jovial, with the many stories involving Mr Spraggs sparking peals of laughter. The crowd filled the surf club and many had to stand outside.

The service was a celebration of Mr Spraggs' life, with pictures of him at sea, with family and standing next to a large marlin.

But tears also flowed.

Daughter Stevie Spraggs was overcome with emotion as people arrived to pay tribute.

She said she took comfort knowing her father died doing what he loved.

"I now see there is no reason to be sad. He's lived about three people's lifetimes and he only got to 58. This is why we need to celebrate," she said. "I know there will be times where I will need him and [I will] miss him when those times come."

Stevie also reminisced about visiting her dad at his Orkney Rd home where he often had a beer in one hand and cigarette in the other and many friends over.

"This never worried me because I knew he was happy. He always said goodbye - 'Well sprogg, have as much fun as you possibly can' ... and I believe that is what life was about.

"Love you, dad," she said as she bent down to kiss his coffin.

Other family members spoke, referring to a larger-than-life character who loved the sea, loved Stevie and lived life to the full.

Good friend Ian Waite "Troppo" lived up to his nickname, wearing a bright blue floral shirt and shorts as he reminisced about his buddy's antics, such as falling asleep in a Hamilton bar's disabled toilet - where he was found the next morning. He said it was a "sad irony" Mr Spraggs died in a boating accident, when he was such a strong swimmer.

Mr Spraggs' partner Shirley, who is still in Thailand picking up his belongings, wrote that she would treasure her memories of sailing around Thailand with Mr Spraggs forever.

Friend Craig Hooper said the beach shirts and shorts were a reflection of Mr Spraggs, who often dressed in such attire.

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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