A self-taught Olympic gymnast and teacher recently passed away after a short illness at the age of 96.

George Weedon, who was born in Richmond in 1920 and lived for 64 years in Rothesay Avenue in nearby East Sheen, was British floor gymnastics champion for three consecutive years from 1946 to 1948.

Mr Weedon also represented Great Britain in the men’s team and individual events in the 1948 and 1952 Olympics, held in London and Helsinki, respectively.

He raised eyebrows as the first Olympic gymnast ever to compete in shorts, and was the first man to perform the splits, which was seen as a “feminine move” in the 1940s.

He also coached his late wife, Joan Airey, to joint-second place in the vault event at the 1948 Olympics, and he later taught the national under-11s school champions.

Mr Weedon was well-known in the borough as a gymnastics teacher at G&M Gymnastics Club, Richmond Gymnastics Association, Sheen Mount Primary School and Grey Court School.

He also taught at schools in north London for more than two decades.

When he deemed himself no longer able to perform gymnastics to a standard that satisfied him he took up ballroom dancing, competing in a number of international competitions including the world championships in Japan when he was in his 60s.

His career with the military during the Second World War saw Mr Weedon serving as a motorbike dispatch rider for air raid precautions, where his father was local depot commander.

He then volunteered to join the youth army at Kingston barracks before being assimilated into the Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire regiment, guarding strategic locations, including railways and later R101 airships.

In 1941, Mr Weedon helped rehabilitate injured soldiers, and a promotion to acting corporal saw him train new recruits.

In April 1942, when he was 21, he contracted tuberculosis and had to be discharged from the Army on health grounds, when he moved into PE teaching.

He later overcame a broken vertebra and the loss of a kidney after treatment for TB to become an international gymnast.

Mr Weedon was a popular local builder and handyman, regularly performing age-defying acrobatics from treetops and roofs well into his 70s.

In 2011 he was the subject of Walk Tall, a Bafta longlisted short film by Kate Sullivan which explored his life and his belief in the importance of good posture.

Walk Tall from kate sullivan on Vimeo.

Alistair Parkes, who lived opposite him on Rothesay Avenue for 16 years, said Mr Weedon was an “incredible man” who always enjoyed pushing himself.

Mr Parkes said: “He was amazing. In his 90s he could still bend over and touch the floor with his hands. A lot of much, much younger people can’t do that.

“He lived by the motto of challenging yourself every day, and he never stopped pushing himself.

“His real legacy will be the community fundraising he did to build local playgrounds in his later years.”

Mr Weedon passed away after a short illness on March 22 in Nottinghamshire, surrounded by family, aged 96.

He is survived by three sons, a daughter, nine grandchildren and five great grandchildren.

A memorial service is being held at 5pm on Monday, March 27 at Sheen Mount Primary School. All who knew him personally are welcome to attend.

Mr Parkes is currently fundraising for Mr Weedon's favourite charity, the RSPCA. A link to his JustGiving page can be found here.