Mystery remains over death of RL campaigner

Author Ray Gent from Billinge has writen an online book called "Football In It's Own Words" which is available on Amazon.'�Picture PAUL SIMPSON'27th November 2013
Author Ray Gent from Billinge has writen an online book called "Football In It's Own Words" which is available on Amazon.'�Picture PAUL SIMPSON'27th November 2013

A well-known Saints fan who campaigned to raise the profile of rugby league drowned in a dam, an inquest has heard.

The hearing, held at St Helens Coroner’s Court, ruled an open verdict for the death of Ray Gent, of Up Holland Road, Billinge.

The inquest heard that the 66-year-old was found at Carr Mill Dam by emergency teams on February 27 - shortly after he had been reported missing.

He was pronounced dead at the scene.

A brief medical history was read out, which revealed that whilst he was treated for depression in 2011, there was no significant changes in his behaviour to spark cause for concern.

Mr Gent launched a campaign for better coverage of rugby league in the national press in the early 2000s, which received widespread support, as Saints coach Ian Millward and most of his players added their support to his petition.

He also wrote a book inspired by the 30,000-signature petition - which demanded a better deal for the sport - and later handed the petition in at Westminster to MP David Hinchliffe, who was secretary of the All-Party Parliamentary Rugby League Group.

Also a football fan, his recent books included one entitled Football In Its Own Words.

Among the tributes posted on an online forum was one which read: “Extremely sad to hear about Ray. He was such a gentle, sociable soul with a lifelong passion for rugby league.

“In an era when most are about the self, celebrity and impression, Ray acted on the principles of fairness and justice.”

Another read: “Sad to hear of death of Ray Gent, author of ‘RL in its own words’ & campaigned for better RL media coverage. RIP Ray.”

Among those paying tribute to Mr Gent following the shock announcement of his death were his beloved Saints.

In a brief statement, a Saints spokesman said: “All at Saints pass on our deepest sympathies to his family and friends.

“Ray was a stalwart of rugby league who will be sadly missed.”