Tributes paid to ‘dedicated, loyal and supportive’ Josh, 25, of Walsham-le-Willows

Thurston Rugby Club second team. Tributes have been paid to Josh Gilbert - fourth from left - who died on Saturday
Thurston Rugby Club second team. Tributes have been paid to Josh Gilbert - fourth from left - who died on Saturday
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Tributes have been paid to a ‘huge character’ who collapsed and died during a rugby match on Saturday, aged 25.

Josh Gilbert, of Walsham-le-Willows, was playing prop forward in a Thurston Rangers away game at Hadleigh when he fell to the ground about 20 minutes into the game.

Matt Ansell, Thurston RUFC chairman, said: “Those who were there said it was obvious something serious was wrong. “

First aid-trained players tried to help Josh while the ambulance and air ambulance were on their way, but nothing could be done.

It is not yet known why Mr Gilbert collapsed. He had played with Thurston Rangers for three years, being a second team regular playing in the prop forward position.

“Obviously this has been a big shock to the club. On Sunday there was a gathering at Walsham-le-Willows Sports Club, as Josh was also a keen cricketer. That drew a lot of people from the three main interests in his life: rugby, cricket and young farmers,” said Mr Ansell, adding Thurston Rugby Club hoped to create some sort of lasting legacy in his name.

“Josh was a big, friendly giant. He was probably the most genuine and likeable guy any of us knew,” said Mr Ansell.

Beth Duchesne, chairman of Suffolk Young Farmers and member of Bury St Edmunds Young Farmers, said: “Josh was a true young farmer. He was one of the most reliable, caring and – honestly – one of the nicest people I have ever met. Josh would do anything for anyone and was a huge character. Josh was chairman of our club for the past two years, but has been the heart of our club ever since he joined,” she said.

“He was dedicated, loyal and supportive, and he has left a huge hole in all of our hearts.

“To us, he was known as the Bear: our big, lovable, friendly bear who left his mark wherever he went.”

Bury St Edmunds Rugby Club, where Josh completed his junior training, said it was ‘saddened’ to hear of his death: “Our thoughts, prayers and heartfelt condolences to the Gilbert family, Josh’s friends and to his teammates.”

Walsham Cricket Club tweeted: “The size of a bear, the strength of a gorilla, the heart made of gold. Rest in peace.”

Thurston Rugby Club’s matches tomorrow have been postponed as tribute to Josh, while Eastern Counties Rugby Union has asked for a minute’s applause at each home match and that clubs which provide a printed team sheet include ‘Josh Gilbert, 3’ in the bench/reserves list.