PLAYERS and supporters at Minchinhampton Rugby Club have been paying warm tributes to their hugely-popular president Graham Gregory.

Mr Gregory, 66, who lived in Woodchester, died after suffering a heart attack while running with the Churn Valley Hash House Harriers on Monday, July 28.

The group were following a circular route through woodland, starting and finishing at the Green Dragon pub in Cowley, near Birdlip, when he became ill.

He collapsed just five minutes from the pub and received emergency treatment from a nurse taking part in the run before being taken to Gloucestershire Royal Hospital, where he died two days later.

Husband to Karen, father to Laura, 34, and Daniel, 37, and a grandfather of four, Graham was a bespoke joiner by trade.

He joined Minchinhampton Rugby Club in 1985, becoming third-team captain in 1988, chairman in 1992 and president in 2004 - a title he held for 10 years until his untimely death.

During his time with the club, Graham was the driving force behind the transition from being nomadic to successfully finding a home at Hollybush in Minchinhampton.

Club chairman Pete Varley said: “Graham gave a huge amount to the club in so many ways and we all have very fond memories of him.

“He had his own unique style that we all warmed to, and we shall all miss him greatly.

“Our thoughts are with his family through this difficult time.”

Fellow rugby club friend Julian Athawes said: “Graham played rugby up until his early 60s and could always be seen at home matches come rain or shine.

“He was a very genuine and outgoing man who got on well with everyone, even the opposition.

“It’s tragic news and he will be dearly missed by everyone. One of the fondest memories I have of Graham is of him standing at the rugby club on a Saturday afternoon wearing a tweed jacket and shorts with his dog Harry, offering you a glass of port.”

Graham, who also ran a quiz team, was a keen member of the Churn Valley Hash House Harriers, where his nickname was Musthash on account of his trademark facial hair. Hash runners follow a trail marked out in flour or paper.

Graham’s funeral is at St Mary’s Parish Church, North Woodchester, today (Thursday).

Those attending are asked to wear tropical shirts, Minchinhampton Rugby Club colours or anything appropriate in memory of Graham. The family have asked for no flowers, but a donation to the RNLI or the British Heart Foundation would be appreciated.

There will be a gathering after at the Amberley Inn.

Tributes to Graham can be left at stroud