BROMSGROVE residents have paid their respects to a popular judo fighter who died following a two-decade long illness.

Dave Cotterill, known by many as Judo Dave, helped people build their confidence through the martial art he dedicated his life to. 

He died on July 19 at Alexandra Hospital in Redditch aged 67. Mr Cotterill was diagnosed with Sarcoidosis, a disease of the lungs, 20 years ago and his family say he “carried on as normal and for the most part, you wouldn't have known he was ill.”

Due to his weakened lung, his death was caused by pneumonia which led to heart failure.

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A funeral was held on Monday, August 10, and residents paid tribute to the late martial arts enthusiast outside of his home in Bishop Hall Crescent, Charford - some wearing Judo outfits.

Mr Cotterill was a part of the Bromsgrove Judo club and was known for his coaching and support of youngsters who shared an interest for the sport.

His club members put him forward for the Association’s Coach of the Year award, initially without his knowledge. He went on to win the award, which involved clubs throughout the UK.

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Mr Cotterill was also well known as a Butcher and supported several organisations, including the Bromsgrove Youth Organisation - now the Ryland Centre, and the Young Mariners.

His daughter Kelly Robinson, aged 40, said: “He was judo through and through. He loved to socialise with people in all walks of life. He was into conspiracy theories, magic and of course his family.

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“Dad was a fighter, in every sense. He fought his illness valiantly for 20 years and for the most part, you wouldn't have known he was ill.

“He never gave up. Always an optimist. Always laughing and joking through his pain. We take comfort in knowing that he is no longer in pain. We miss him so much.”

Long-time friend Tony Boyle, aged 61, said: “He was a great character, I’ve known him since I was 18. I think everybody in Bromsgrove knows of Dave.”