AN ATHLETE who had spent more than 20 years working in the leisure and fitness industry, and in particular competed in shot putt events, has died suddenly aged 45.

Dan Upton, a member of Richmond and Zetland Harriers who has competed in gruelling decathlon and throwing competitions, died last Sunday.

His wife Tammi Upton said she was “devastated and shocked” and said he was completely well and happy until he collapsed at home.

She said: “He was my beautiful husband, best friend and soulmate. He was everything to me and our beautiful boxer dog Bobby.

“He changed my life completely and he lived to make me happy and feel safe, protected and loved. There was nothing he wouldn’t do for me – any second of the day. He was literally my world. It was just him, Bobby and I, and we were so in love and blissfully happy.

“I just can not believe he has gone at 45 years young, he was fit and healthy. There are no words to express how heartbroken I am.”

A Just Giving page has been set up in his memory by friend Will Cowley.

Mr Cowley said: “Dan sadly passed away on Sunday. This has come a huge shock and a very sad time for his wife, family, friends and the athletics community.

“We all remember Dan to light up the day, always a bubbly man and a pleasure to have known him.

“I don’t know anyone who loved athletics more than Dan and I don’t know anyone who was loved more by the athletics people. He would travel the country for competitions every week. If we could just raise any amount of money to help Dan’s family at this dreadful time it would be massively appreciated. Fly high Dan, you’ll be missed by many.”

Richmond and Zetland Harriers left a tribute on their Facebook page. It said: “Dan Upton, who many years ago competed for us as a junior, then re-joined us again a couple of years ago to compete in the Senior Track League, has suddenly died. I am still in shock. Dan was one of the nicest guys you could ever meet, totally genuine, and would always have a go at anything.”

Mr Upton regularly featured in the sports pages of the Darlington and Stockton Times for his achievements.

He also leaves his devastated parents John and Carol and brother Clive in Northallerton.

To support the fundraising appeal, visit