Wednesday, April 11, 2012
The devastated family of a Budleigh Salterton father of four, who died after suffering a heart attack while playing football, has paid tribute to a ‘kind and generous’ husband and a ‘loving’ dad.
Chris Ralph, 47, of Moormead, collapsed last Friday night during the Devon FA Veterans’ County Cup Final in Newton Abbot.
He was playing for Chagford FC against Topsham Town, when he was taken ill after 29-minutes of the first-half.
He was taken by paramedics to Torbay Hospital, where he later died.
Described as a ‘brilliant sportsman’, who also played golf, squash and was a regular cyclist, Chris leaves his wife, Lorraine, and their two children, Hannah, five, Matthew, two.
He also has two children from his first marriage, Emily, 19, and Katie, 17.
Lorraine said: “Chris was an amazing Dad and husband. He was well known within the town for his ever-happy demeanour and he also wore shorts all year round, come rain or shine.
“He was kind, generous and was everyone’s friend. We are truly devastated to have lost him at such an early age.
“We would like to thank everyone far and wide for the huge amount of support they have given at this time. It is a great comfort to us.”
Daughter Emily said he was the ‘most loving dad you could have asked for’, and their best friend.
“No matter what had happened or what we had done, we could go to him in the knowledge that we would not be judged,” she said. “This was one of his many amazing qualities.
“It’s so hard to find the words to explain how much we truly loved our dad and how amazing he was, but all the messages and cards we have received are testament enough to how much he was loved, not just by us, but by everyone he knew.
“We could talk forever about our dad and still not manage to express how much he actually meant to us.
“We are absolutely devastated, but we are so proud to call him our dad and he truly was an inspiration.
“It is important to us that, as the oldest children, we remember everything we possibly can so that our younger siblings know how wonderfully exceptional he was.”
Chris worked for insurance company Jardine Lloyd Thompson in Clyst St Mary. Lorraine works at the company’s Exeter office.
Martin Elcoate, director of operations, said: “Our thoughts are with his family.
“Chris was a leading personality in the office.
“He was much loved by everyone and was widely respected for his professionalism and commitment.”
Chagford Football Club secretary John Pearce said: “He was a superb player, a loyal clubman, a great family man and an exceptionally nice chap.
“He played for the club as man and boy and, as a player, he was a real gentleman.
“It was difficult not to like him. We clicked straight away. He was a great friend and I shall miss him.”