'Encouraging, inspirational, giving, lovely.'

Tributes are pouring in to Isle of Wight sporting coach, Ray Scovell, who has died at the age of 76.

He was in hospital, where he was being treated for a non Covid-related illness.

But he contracted Covid-19 and his death was announced yesterday (Wednesday).

The former milkman - who also served in the Royal Navy - coached hammer-thrower Andy Frost to the Commonwealth Games, shaped the early career of Scottish international Nick Percy and inspired GB Canoeist and 2012 Olympian, Richard Jeffries.

Scroll down for a link to share your memories and photos of Ray...

First to pay tribute was Ray's daughter, Claire Apsey, who described him as 'inspirational'.

Claire said: "He loved his work with the IW Sports Unit and was still helping out with coaching there last year."

Isle of Wight County Press:

On Twitter, GB Canoeist and 2012 Olympian, Richard Jeffries, said: "Ray gave me my first introduction in to elite sport and inspired me to pusue it as a career.

A true legend of Isle of wight athletics. A very sad day."

Susie Sheldon, Isle of Wight Lord Lieutenant and a trustee of the Isle of Wight Sports Foundation, said "I feel privileged to have known Ray Scovell and he will be sadly missed in Island athletics and indeed in the wider community.

"So many people will have been influenced by him in their athletics careers and even those who have never been serious athletes will have happy memories of his influence. "He always remained modest and retiring, determinedly staying out of the limelight.

"The Island was lucky to have him."

Isle of Wight County Press:

Ray was the driving force behind Medina Parkrun

John Hepworth, joint event director for Medina Parkrun, said: "All of the parkrun community is devastated by Ray's death.  

"It is no exaggeration at all to say that parkrun would not have started, or have continued, on the Island had it not been for Ray's persistence and enthusiasm.  
"We have so much to thank him for.  

"We have a yearly 'Ray's Run' to celebrate his achievement and this will have such poignancy from now on."

Isle of Wight County Press:

On Twitter, Steve Winfield-Hunt called Ray a 'lovely man' and Promethesis wrote: "What a tragedy. Ray was an amazing, selfless man. A true inspiration to all.

"Everyone who had the honour to know Ray, knew what an unbelievable, gentle, example of what a man is. Huge loss to the Isle of Wight. RIP Ray."

Mark Thornett wrote: "Very sorry to hear this. He gave me a good welcome when I first came to the Island and joined Medina Parkrun."

In a comment on the Isle of Wight County Press's Facebook page, Joanne Payne called Ray: "An absolute inspirational and selfless man, always giving to the youth sport."

Cordelia Dewey wrote: "Such sad news. Always loved chatting to Ray and seeing him on the gates. He was always the first one there and last to leave the track on training nights. A true gentleman and such an inspiration to the youth. A real loss. RIP Ray ! X"

Isle of Wight County Press:

Ray leaves his wife, Rosemary, his daughter, Claire Apsey, and his grandson, Simon Apsey, who Claire described as the apple of Ray's eye.