Tributes for Suffolk rugby hero

IPSWICH rugby circles are in mourning today following the sudden death of popular rugby club veteran Gary Benneworth in Spain.The former Ipswich Rugby Club player and county representative died yesterday morning while on holiday with his family in La Manga.

IPSWICH rugby circles are in mourning today following the sudden death of popular rugby club veteran Gary Benneworth in Spain.

The former Ipswich Rugby Club player and county representative died yesterday morning while on holiday with his family in La Manga.

The 50-year-old died suddenly from what is believed to have been a heart attack.

News of the father-of-three's death shocked his rugby mates.

Chris Gray, a former Ipswich Rugby Club captain who was best man at Mr Benneworth's wedding, said: "He was larger than life, a very good character.

"He was extremely well thought of in the club. It will be the older playing members that will be very, very saddened by it.

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"He was very much loved by everybody."

Mr Benneworth lived at Little Bealing with his wife Penny, twin girls Christine and Emily, 14, and son John, 16.

He ran a successful warehousing and goods handling business at Felixstowe port.

His brother Mark Benneworth spoke of the family's shock over his death.

"We are absolutely devastated," he said.

Another former captain of Ipswich Rugby Club, Ian May, said Mr Benneworth played for the club for 20 years during the 1980s and 1990s but was still a familiar face at games and club events.

"He had a tremendous partnership with his friend Colin Barker in the second row," he said.

"He was a very talented line out player and he stood his ground in the second row and played his heart out."

He added: "He was a character of the town and of the rugby club.

"He was an outgoing character who lived life to the full."

Plans are being made to return Mr Benneworth's body to Suffolk.

Did you know Gary Benneworth? What are your memories of him? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send us an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk or visit the forum at www.eveningstar.co.uk.

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