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Rugby pals tribute


A minute’s silence will be held before all Southwell Rugby Club fixtures tomorrow in memory of a club member and former third XV captain killed in Afghanistan on Sunday.

Senior Aircraftman Gary Thompson (51) was serving with the Royal Air Force Reserves.

He is the oldest Serviceman to be killed in Afghanistan and Iraq. He was married with five daughters.

Mr Thompson was captain of Southwell Rugby Club third XV for three years, joint captain for four years and a member of the club for eight years.

Mr Thompson and Senior Aircraftman Graham Livingstone (23) of Strathclyde, Scotland, died when their Wolf Land Rover was blown up by a roadside bomb while they were on patrol at Kandahar Airfield.

A minute’s silence will be held at 3pm at Southwell Rugby Club before the first and third XV home games against Amber Valley and Gainsborough.

Southwell Rugby Club member Mr Duncan Roberts said they had asked other clubs in Nottinghamshire, Lincolnshire and Derbyshire to also hold a minute’s silence in memory of Mr Thompson.

“Gary played for us for a long time,” said Mr Roberts.

“After the games we will be having a memorial drink. We just said we would do things the way Gary would have wanted.”

Mr Chris Dakin, who was joint captain of the third XV with Mr Thompson, said he would be missed by everyone at the club.

“He was incredibly popular, never had a bad word for anybody and was respected by everybody both on and off the pitch,” said Mr Dakin.

Mr Thompson played his last game for Southwell before Christmas.

Mr Thompson, the managing director of Sherwood Ducting Ltd of Nottingham, served in the RAF from 1973-77.

He joined the Royal Auxiliary Air Force in 2005.

He was deployed to Kandahar Airfield with 3 Squadron RAF Regiment in February.

Mr Thompson, who lived in Sherwood, leaves his wife, Mrs Jacqui Thompson, and daughters, Laurie (24) Aimee (22) Jordan (20) Jade (17) and Kelly (16).

A statement released by Mr Thompson’s family said: “A devoted husband, father, son and brother who touched the lives of everyone who knew him; Gary was more than our hero, he was the rock and foundation of our family.

“Words cannot express how much he was loved and how proud of him we are.

“Gary, you have had our hearts from the beginning and now they are yours forever.”

Mr Thompson’s commanding officer, Squadron Leader Richard Langley, said: “He was the consummate professional soldier and airman, who took immense pride in his military service in addition to his civilian job.

“He was immensely proud to serve with the squadron, as we were to serve alongside him, and he will be sorely missed by all.”

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