Young players' tribute to their devoted coach

Neil Kennerley, whose tragic death has caused shockwaves though Burnley
Neil Kennerley, whose tragic death has caused shockwaves though Burnley

A man who was seen as a coach and an inspiration to a young team of footballers is to be honoured by them.

Players from Belvedere Boys under 8s team are to walk from Burnley up Pendle Hill to help raise money for the family of Neil Kennerley who died yesterday at the age of 44.

A devoted coach for at the club, which is based at Burnley Rugby Club, his death has left fellow coach Anthony Routh and parents shocked and stunned.

Charlene Foster, whose seven-year-old son Bobby plays for the team, said: “Neil was a lovely man and his death is a huge loss. He was a real inspiration to the boys, not only as a coach but as someone who inspired them to do their best.

“He was always in good spirits and a very caring man who did so much for other people.”

The sponsored walk will take place on Saturday, September 3rd and plans are also being made for the boys to take part in a sponsored dribble in Burnley town centre. All the cash raised from the events, which are being organised by Charlene, fellow mum Sammie Sawley and Anthony’s wife Fiona, will be donated to Neil’s family to pay for his funeral costs.

As a testimony to how well loved Neil was a justgiving page set up on facebook reached its £1,000 target within hours of being launched.

Neil’s family contacted the police and a search was launched after he went missing from his home in the Sycamore Avenue area of Burnley at midnight on Monday. Yesterday police found the father-of-two’s body in woodland near the former Habergham School in Kiddrow Lane, Burnley.

A self employed gardener, Neil leaves his partner and two sons, Nathan (18) and five-year-old Logan, who also plays with the Belvedere Boys Club.

Neil was a lifelong Clarets fan and at the home game on Saturday against Liverpool Burnley fans staged their own tribute to Neil at the 44th minute of the game with a one minute round of applause.

A Lancashire Police spokesman said: “On Wednesday, August 17th, during a search of woodland in the grounds of the old Habergham High School on Kiddrow Lane in Burnley, police found the body of a missing male called Neil Kennerley.

“This followed Neil’s family raising concerns to the police that he had left his home in the early hours of August 16 and not returned.

“There are no suspicious circumstances and a file will be passed to the coroner.

Anyone who would like to donate to the sponsored walk for Neil can ring Charlene on 07583681000 or contact her via facebook.