'True son of Suffolk' Josh Gilbert touched lives of so many say family with tribute
"Our Josh was a true son of Suffolk, he was loyal and earned enormous respect from all who knew him."
That’s how the father of a 25-year-old “gentle giant” Thurston rugby player who collapsed and died during a game wants to remember his son as he thanks those who came to his aid.
Bury Young Farmers Club chairman Josh Gilbert, from Walsham le Willows, died on the pitch on Saturday despite efforts by emergency crews.
The cause of his death is not yet known.
• READ MORE: Thurston Rangers rugby club mourns loss of Josh Gilbert after shock collapse
Tributes have poured in for the former Easton and Otley College student, who worked at Tompsett Burgess Growers, ever since.
Now his family, which includes mother Anita, father Howard and younger brother Tim, 23, have said they want to celebrate Josh’s legacy.
Howard, 57, said: “Josh touched the lives of so many. I think the sheer volume of people who have already come together to remember him shows just how loved and admired he really was.
“He was a gentle giant, he had the nicest personality and although he could at times be quite quiet he made such an impact on everyone he spent time with.
“As a family we are hugely proud of what he has achieved and were quite overwhelmed by how many messages of support we are getting as well as the help he was given on the pitch.
He added: “He had hero status in the many groups he was involved in – Josh was at the heart of them. Our Josh was a true son of Suffolk, he was loyal and earned enormous respect from all who knew him.”
An Ipswich Town season ticket holder for almost two decades, Josh was a dedicated member of Suffolk Young Farmers.
A former pupil of both St Botolph’s Primary School in Botesdale and Hartismere High School in Eye, he left school at 16 to pursue a career in agriculture.
“He also had a taste for travel and in 2013 he spent time on a farm in Montana which he thoroughly enjoyed,” his father added.
“Because of his involvement with farming I think it is fitting for Josh to compare his qualities to that of the Suffolk horse.
“The uniqueness and his quiet, strong and determined nature combined with an unstinting drive to keep on going shone through in Josh.
“As a son he was very loyal, and especially proud of his family. We will miss him very much.”
Suffolk Young Farmers pay tribute to Josh
Dedicated member Josh Gilbert will leave a large hole in the Suffolk Young Farmers family, the chairman of the movement has said as she pays tribute to him.
Beth Duchesne said she had known the 25-year-old for several years, since they were very young. She and fellow members were informed of the news of Josh’s death just a few hours before the group’s awards ceremony on Saturday evening, which he was looking forward to.
His father and girlfriend gave the group the go ahead for the event as they knew how much it meant to him.
Ms Duchesne said: “Josh was the kindest, most reliable and loyal man – you could depend on him.
“He was first on the dance floor and always up for a laugh, we knew him as Bear because he was so big and friendly.
“At the Suffolk Show Josh was Supermoo our mascot a couple of times, that was right up his street.
“We will all miss him dearly and he will leave a big hole in our young farmers family.”
Otley College pay tribute to star student
A young farmer at heart, Josh Gilbert left school at 16 and later enrolled on an agricultural course at Easton and Otley College.
His father Howard said he thoroughly enjoyed his time at the college.
Although he was one of the older students he got on well with his classmates – particularly due to his work with Suffolk Young Farmers.
Charlie Askew, who works in the agricultural department at the college, said he remembers Josh as one of his best students.
“I taught Josh as a level three student and he was a go to guy,” he said.
“If there was anything you needed doing – he would always put himself forwards.
“Personally, you shouldn’t compare your students but he was certainly one of the best (students) I’ve worked with.
“As a guy he was wonderful and I’ll miss him.
He added: “His family was wonderful to work with as well and our thoughts are very much with them at this moment.”
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