Bideford cricketer Tom Allin named as man who died from Torridge Bridge fall
23:25 06 January 2016
Club mates ‘stunned’ by news lead the tributes to former Warwickshire fast bowler
The man who died after falling from the Torridge Bridge on Monday night has been named as well-known North Devon sportsman Tom Allin.
Mr Allin, who was 28 in November last year, was declared dead at the scene by paramedics, who were alerted by members of the public who saw him fall.
Police say they are not treating Mr Allin’s death as suspicious. A file has been prepared and sent to the North Devon coroner.
News of Mr Allin’s death began trending of Twitter this morning (Thursday) as the cricketing world woke to the sad news.
Among those to have left tributes are former Warwickshire team mates Chris Armstrong and Chris Woakes, England women’s team vice-captain Heather Knight and the England Cricket Board (ECB). Many have left tributes using the hashtag #CricketFamily.
Mr Allin, who was educated at Bideford College and North Devon College, was a professional cricketer with Warwickshire for six years between 2008-2013.
In a statement, the club said: “Everyone at Edgbaston is immensely saddened by the news that former Warwickshire fast bowler Tom Allin has died.
“Tom was an incredibly popular member of the professional squad during his six years with Warwickshire, and he made one First Class and one List A appearance before returning to his native Devon at the end of the 2013 season.
“The thoughts of all at Warwickshire County Cricket Club are with Tom’s family and friends, and we would ask that their privacy be respected during this difficult time.
“The Club will not make any further comment at this time.”
When his contract expired in 2013, Tom returned to the family home in Northam and went to work as a cricket coach.
His cricket career had started with Bideford where dad Tony and brother Matt also played cricket. Dad Tony had been a professional cricketer with Glamorgan and played for Devon between 1975-98. He quit the professional game in 1976 to run the family farm.
Mr Allin played cricket for Devon in their youth teams up to under-21 level. He was 19 when he made his debut for the full Devon team in the Minor Counties Championship.
By the time Mr Allin joined Warwickshire he had switched allegiances from Bideford CC to North Devon CC. When he returned to the area in 2013 he rejoined North Devon although he continued to play for Bideford on Sundays in the North Devon League.
Cricket coaching was a natural progression for Mr Allin, who had obtained an honours degree sports coaching while studying at university in Cardiff between 2008-2010.
Former umpire and current Glamorgan scout Kevin Lyons, who was Mr Allin’s head coach at Cardiff MCCU, said: “My thoughts go to Tom’s family. It’s very sad news for members of the cricketing community and also for me on a personal level.
“I was at Glamorgan with Tom’s father Tony and when Tom arrived in Cardiff we made an immediate connection.
“Tom was quite a reserved boy but he knuckled down and got on with it. He was a good bloke and determined – which is what you look for in a young player.
“He had a very rhythmical action but he could also bat – he was decent technically.
“Tom was an integral part of our success at Cardiff; we won 13 national titles – including every single university title – over a six-year period.
“He really did help Cardiff gain ascendency over universities such as Cambridge, Oxford, Loughborough and Durham. You have to have good players to do that and he was one of them.
“I knew the late David Shepherd from Instow from my umpiring days and called him about Tom, as those who have been around the game for many years are very good judges of new talent.
“David said he was well worth a look and he was right – Tom signed for Warwickshire straight after finishing university.”
Mr Allin was heavily involved in primary school coaching in Barnstaple and Bideford and was head of cricket at Shebbear College as well as a coach at Bideford College.
During the winter, Mr Allin played football for Northam Lions.
Local tributes to Mr Allin have been led by North Devon CC chairman Mark Ansell, who said; “Everyone at the club is devastated by the news of Tom’s death.
“We all feel so sad for Tom’s family. He was a great guy and this has come as such a shock.
“The players at the club are numbed by what has happened. They met up on Tuesday night to support each other.”
James Ford, who played with Mr Allin at Bideford, said he was ‘stunned’ by the news.
“I saw Tom over Christmas and he seemed in great form and was looking forward to next season,” said Mr Ford.
“I remember seeing him first as a 13-year-old lad running in and bowling as fast as he could.
“The Allin family have close links with Bideford and our thoughts are with them at this time.”
Bideford Cricket Club posted a tribute on its website this morning. It said: “It is with much sadness and a heavy heart that we have to announce the death of Tom Allin.
“Many of the older members of the club will have known Tom as a child and watched his progress through our colts programme onto district, county and full Minor Counties cricket, and then of course First Class cricket with Warwickshire.
“We are all so proud of all that he achieved in this wonderful sport from his beginnings at our club in Westward Ho! We watched him grow into a fine young man and a fine cricketer.
“Younger members will know Tom as an enthusiastic coach with shaggy blond hair, an infectious smile and time for everyone. He will be sorely missed by all here and our sincere condolences go out to Tony, Bev, Matt and the rest of the Allin family.
“Rest in peace young Muscles, from everyone at Bideford Cricket Club.”
Mr Allin coached Devon U13s last season, where he worked closely with Robert Holman.
Mr Holman, a teacher, said Mr Allin was a natural when it came to working with youngsters.
“He loved working with the kids – and they absolutely adored him,” said Mr Holman.
“Because he had been there and done it with Warwickshire, what he said carried a lot of weight with the boys.
“There was seldom a dull moment when Tom was coaching – and if there was he did something about it.
“I was very lucky to have him to work with and will miss him.”
Mr Holman played against Mr Allin for Devon League side Exeter and described him as a ‘competitive cricketer who liked to get stuck in’.
Torquay captain Justin Yau was a Devon team-mate through the youth teams and said he was stunned to learn his friend had died.
“This is heartbreaking news,” said Mr Yau. “I roomed with Tom through the youth age groups and he was a great guy.”
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