Our society teems with angels, those selfless beings who put others before themselves without expecting recognition nor anything in return. The unsung hero, the one who touches lives without fanfare; who gives selflessly and allows others the opportunity to recover from setbacks or to gather their strength to face the next round of life, often appears in the most unlikely of guises.
One such hero’s untimely passing rocked the club rugby fraternity this weekend. Joshua Lan may have been a die-hard False Bay RFC member but his passion was the game and his influence reached well beyond the players of the Constantia club.
If social media statistics are an indication, within three days after announcing his shock passing, the post bearing the news of his passing had reach almost 30 000 people and garnered more than 400 reactions. Comments expressed shock and respect for the character of a man who always placed his fellow being before himself.
Josh joined False Bay Rugby Club soon after completing school and immersed himself in the club’s activities. A dedicated player, his effervescent personality endeared him to players and supporters alike, but Lan, his surname an acceptable moniker, had more depth than a young player enjoying his sport, giving his all on and off the pitch.
Lan lived for rugby, a passion which drove him to get involved in sharing that passion. While he played the game with gusto, displaying his appreciation for the opportunity to participate in the sport he so loved with an effervescent and ubiquitous smile and the standard disarming banter which reminded all of the reason we participate in sport.
The impact of the man on the rugby fraternity was perhaps not as a player but rather as a participant, in the game and in life. His achievements include a number of caps for the Bay’s successful Second XV. A technically correct and determined prop, he stood back for no man, determined in the execution of his craft as a scrummager and relishing every opportunity that he as a prop was given to display his running skills.
His rugby legacy is far more textured than that, ranging from coaching at Zwaanswyk High School, Peninsula RFC and wherever he could share his passion for the game. He immersed himself in the sport, coaching various teams, clubs and schools, his most recent being as a coach at Wynberg Boys’ Junior School.
Away from the pitches of the schools and clubs, Lan cared for his fellow man with selfless dedication. He opened his home to people needing a helping hand, that caring outreach that inspires the sufferer at a time when it was felt that all hope was lost. A man clearly dedicated to his role of minder and champion of others in need, Joshua simply gave and truly expected nothing in return.
The caring role was evident from an early age as he protected and guided sister,Sara. “Family always came first”, says aunt Beverley Moore. “A natural entertainer, he never missed a family gathering, even if the Springboks were playing, and we know how much he loved the Springboks”.
Beverley says that he was always the entertainer from a young age and it is the disarming talent which endeared Lan to the club rugby fraternity across the Peninsula, a measure of which is the messages of respect received by False Bay or on the Club’s Facebook page.
“Josh was the perfect example of a true club man”, says Kevin Lennett, Chairman of False Bay RFC. “He loved his club and he loved his fellow players, coaches and mates. He made an indelible mark that will stand indefinitely. He was generous, kind and passionate! Not afraid to challenge or state his view. And …he lived to party and celebrate good times at the club. He touched many lives and those he touched will never forget him”.
In a short 30 years, Josh Lan has inspired and touched so many lives. No fanfare. No “look what I did”. He motivated, he inspired and empowered, he cared. He thrived on the energy of life. He laughed, loved but detested injustice and would not allow such to go without challenge. In thirty short years, Josh Lan lived a life of depth, love and clean mischief. Rest in peace young warrior.