The tight-knit Gippsland greyhound racing fraternity is mourning the passing of popular hobby trainer James (Jim) Harrington.
Harrington, 64, suffered a medical incident at the Warragul race meeting on May 18.
A father of five, Harrington combined greyhound racing with a role as a farm manager in Madayla after moving to Alberton (7km from Yarram) around 20 years ago.
He trained his first-ever winner, Slade Runner (pictured), at Healesville on December 19, 2009.
“Dad owned a general store/post office in Mitta Mitta, an hour from Wodonga, when we were kids,” Harrington’s daughter, Alisha, said.
“When we moved to Alberton, he took up greyhound racing after contracting diabetes. The walking kept him active and assisted his health.
“He owned racehorses many years back, but he developed a strong passion for greyhound racing – and the greyhound itself.”
Harrington, who was one of six children, was simply “Poppy” to 13 grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
“He was the best ‘poppy’ in the world,” Alisha said. “Dad was humorous and liked to joke around, and he always had stories to tell.
“He died suddenly doing what he loved, racing greyhounds.”
Gippsland greyhound racing stalwart Trevor Whitford, also 64, went to school with Harrington at Yarram Secondary College.
“I’ve known James for more than 50 years,” he said. “He was a quiet type at school. He kept to himself but was also friendly.”
Whitford added that as the schoolboy grew into a man, “nothing was too much trouble for him”.
“He’d do anything for anyone; he was that type of bloke. He used to take my older brother, Bob, trialling.
“Bob, who is 87, says he already misses him not coming through his back door. He told me James was his best mate.”
Whitford is caring for Harrington’s dog, Long Island, which contested Race 9. The rest of the meeting was abandoned following the incident.
“I took Long Island back to my property. He’ll stay here until the time is right to speak with James’ family.”
Harrington is survived by his partner, Julie, and five children – Chrissy, Tim, Alisha, Tammie and Eric.
Pawnote: The funeral for James Lawrence Harrington will be held at Yarram Lawn Cemetery on Friday, May 26 at 11am.