A man who has taught judo in Crawley since 1954 was paid a surprise visit by his students.
The chief coach at Crawley Judo Club was left speechless after 50 people went to see him promoted to a higher Judo grade at the club in Tilgate Forest Recreation Centre.
John Pluckrose, 87, of Ridgeside, Three Bridges, said: “They’ve taken the trouble to come up, they were all talking to one another, everyone was happy, and getting round to everybody, it was just amazing.”
John was presented his Sixth Dan belt by Cllr Brian Quinn (Lab, Broadfield North), the president of the club.
The award was in recognition of his life-long contribution to British judo.
Top judo Olympic judges attended the rare promotion, which happened after he finished coaching juniors at the club on March 23.
John said ‘all hell broke loose’ after generations of his students started coming in by the dozens at around 8pm.
He said it was like a family gathering.
He added: “You like to think Judo is an individual sport but it isn’t.
“Although you have to fight as an individual you cannot get anywhere without your group.”
John looked through ‘pages and pages and pages’ of the club’s registration records to find the students who attended the event.
He added: “Coaching is what I enjoy more than anything else now. When you see someone break through it gives you a lot of motivation.”
His students have achieved more than 50 black belts.