A giant of a man with a heart of gold – the inspirational life of rugby league legend, community fundraiser and family man Les Gorley was remembered by hundreds of people at his funeral.

Christ Church in Great Broughton was packed with mourners and many more stood outside yesterday to pay their respects to Mr Gorley, who died at home following a short illness on September 11 aged 69.

The Reverend Godfrey Butland said: "You have all come to remember the big man with a big heart; a man who has been a big inspiration to all of us."

Mr Gorley's famous rugby league career started as a 15-year-old amateur with Broughton Red Rose and took him to the very top of the sport as he picked up five Great Britain caps, played twice for England and represented Cumbria on 17 occasions.

He was a two-time Challenge Cup winner with Widnes and lifted the Lancashire Cup for Workington Town alongside his younger brother Peter in 1977.

Whitehaven was his final club, where he once again called his sibling a team-mate.

A tribute from the family was read by Mr Butland, who said: "His career was outstanding and distinguished.

"He was a tough competitor with a heart of gold; a gentle and quiet man until the whistle blew."

Away from rugby league, Mr Gorley was a proud villager who was part of the original Brow'ton 7 crew and, alongside brothers Peter and Mitch, raised more than £75,000 for village causes over 30 years.

He was also a dedicated father and grandfather, although he instructed his grandchildren to call him "Just Les".

Mr Gorley's work ethic off the pitch was as legendary as it was on it and he worked for 54 years as a joiner for Thomas Armstrong.

He was married to Sandra for 47 years and together they travelled all over the world and always bumped into someone who recognised him – even in Australia.

Mourners heard that as well as being fond of fundraising, Mr Gorley loved taking part in the village's popular carnival and entertaining the crowd lining the streets, while hound trailing was another of his favourite hobbies.

Mr Butland added: "Les was a man of few words but what he said people listened to.

"He made friends in every aspect of his life.

"He was loyal and trusted."

Mr Gorley was carried out of the church as Walk Of Life by Dire Straits was played and mourners applauded his final journey.

The service was followed by interment in the churchyard.

Donations were collected for Cancer Research UK.

The News & Star attended Mr Gorley’s funeral with the permission of his family.