It is with a very heavy heart that I have to inform the club that Shaun Barns passed away last night after a long and courageous battle with cancer in New Zealand. He leaves behind his wife Susie and children Bryanna and Trae. Our club has lost a brother.
Shaun came to the UK with his wife who was attached to the NZ Defence Team. After a chance meeting with myself in the Hand and Racquet, both Shaun and another NZ Defence attache, Nick Olney, were convinced to bring their kids down to the club. They duly came down on the Saturday as well to get a better feel for the place. Shaun was adamant at the time that his rugby days were over and he wasn't playing again. Him being a kiwi it was no surprise that a few weeks later Shaun was donning the claret and blue and running out for the Strollers.
He quickly became a popular team mate amongst the chaps and especially amongst the kiwi fraternity. On Sundays he was an active member of his son's team and helped coach the lads, as well as being a popular figure on the sideline. He was well known for having time for everyone, and loved nothing more than a chat about the All Blacks over a couple of jars.
He returned to New Zealand a few years ago with his family and his wife's position here had to come to an end. Not long after his return he was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer and although he fought bravely - he finally succumbed last night.
His friends will be heartened by how proud he was of his rugby mates and wider friends helping out his family with medical bills, and he sent a video message to the fund raiser held last month at New Zealand House. Right to the end he never lost his sense of humour.
It is a mark of the man how much money was raised and in how a high a regard all of us held him. It allowed us all to show the true colours of our sport.
All of us who knew him are lessened by his passing.
I will be in touch with Susie in the coming days with a formal message of sympathy from all of us at the club to her and the family, or Whanau, as they say in Maori.
If anyone needs to know anything further please do contact me.
I know many of us will raise a glass to his memory this weekend.
Rest in Peace Shaun.
Updated 08:05 - 2 Jul 2018 by Marc Bertrand