PRESIDENT of the Cockermouth Rugby Union Club and stalwart of the game has died after a long illness.

The club has joined in tributes to David Coulthard, 75, calling him inspirational: "Under his guidance he has brought the club to where we are today."

Vice President Steve Stainton added: "David’s legacy will always be a large part of the club and will live on for many years.”

Mr Coulthard, who was born and raised in Cockermouth, worked at Millers Shoe Factory before joining the Thames Paper Board.

He had three loves in his life: his family, the Cockermouth club and rugby union in general.

He began playing when he was 17 and showed talent from the start.

He was first team captain and took his team to a Cumbria Cup win in 1977.

When the 18-stone prop ended his playing days, he still helped at the club in any way he could, and was made president in 2003, a position he held until his death.

For the past 20 years, however, Mr Coulthard has been suffering from a progressive brain disorder, neuroferritinopathy. It meant that in recent times he was not able to walk or speak - but still enjoyed watching his club play when he could.

Mr Coulthard and wife Kathleen have one daughter, Julie.

She said her own children, Shane and Aimie loved him and were adored in return.

"When they were little he would work his shifts at Thames around them so he could look after them. He adored them."

His brother Peter's son, Christopher and wife Tamer recently had a little boy Luca, now aged one.

"Dad's face would just light up when he saw Luca."

A service for Mr Coulthard will be held in All Saints Church, Cockermouth at 11am on Tuesday, February 15, with no restrictions on attendance.

The Cockermouth RFU will be paying its own respects to Mr Coulthard at Saturday's home game against Tarelton.