The family of popular rugby player and coach Kevin Gartland have paid tribute to the husband, father and grandfather who counted his family as his greatest achievement.

Born to Alice and Gerard on Bounty Avenue in 1959 Kevin Gartland made an impact on all who knew him, and the love and respect he earned can be seen in the hundreds of messages that have poured into the Gartland home after he lost his battle with Motor Neurone Disease.

Everyone including family, schoolmates, rugby players or people who just knew him socially has picture or memory of Kevin and plenty of stories to tell about his strength of character or humour and how he influenced them in some way.

His family released a tribute, saying: “Kevin achieved a lot throughout his rugby career both playing and coaching. He believed in getting the best out of people and had a strong sense of fairness and justice.

“But by far Kevin’s biggest achievement was his family. Married to Julie for 40 years they brought up two sons Kevin and Steven with the same values of treating everyone fairly and with a strong sense of right and wrong.

"All Kevin wanted of them was that they turned out to be good lads and stayed happy and anyone who knows them would agree he achieved that.

“Kevin’s pride continued with his grandchildren. Kevin and Steven now have their own families with wives Jacqueline and Pam and their children Isabelle, Lena and Ivan and a fourth baby on the way.

"Kevin loved to watch them play and made sure he passed on the Gartland sense of humour, strength, and compassion to each of them."

Mr Gartland lived for the last eight years with Motor Neurone Disease but did not let the illness define him.

The family's tribute went on to say: "He bore the condition with vigour and determination, with a philosophy to live in the moment rather than waste precious time worrying about what might happen in the future.

"Kevin was so much more than someone who bravely faced MND and we want everyone to remember the strong, kind, compassionate man with a great sense of humour and twinkle in his eye that remained with him to the end.

“He will be missed and remembered as a much loved husband, father, grandfather, son and son in law, brother and brother in law, friend, team member, coach and drinking partner to many people in Maryport and across West Cumbria."

Mr Gartland’s funeral is tomorrow at 11am. Only family are allowed at the cemetery but people can socially distance outside the fence or pay respects on route.

The cortege will drive through Criffel Avenue, Skiddaw Avenue, Cristian Street and Church Street before turning into Netherhall Road at 10.45am.

In lieu of flowers, the family have set up a JustGiving page for a local Motor Neurone Disease charity. To donate go to: