TRIBUTES have been paid to one of South Cumbria's much-loved rugby league characters.

Brian Kenley, who was fondly known as ‘Jos’, died at the Cartmel and Grange nursing home at the age of 84.

Jos played for Ulverston Rugby and the Barrow Inter-Town team and was a big influence on young players coming through the ranks.

Leading the tributes was Radio Cumbria’s sports commentator John Gibson, who was shocked and saddened to hear the news.

The Westmorland Gazette: Jos Kenley with the Special Award at the Love Barrow Awards in 2015 Jos Kenley with the Special Award at the Love Barrow Awards in 2015 (Image: Archive)

He said: “When I asked to commentate on Barrow Raiders, he was my guiding light as I had little knowledge of rugby league. He was my summariser when I started in 2010 through to 2014.

“I had the greatest respect for Jos. He was part of my rugby league life and introduced me to so many others in radio.

“I valued his knowledge so much and we had many a laugh. He was so humorous, we got on so well. I can’t speak highly enough of Jos. He will be sorely missed by so many.”

Jos held several positions at the Ulverston club and was instrumental in setting up the sports and recreational facilities there now. 

He sat on the committee of the Barrow and District League, holding positions of chairman and vice-chairman for a period, and was also an assistant coach with close friend Jim Perry to former Australian test stat Rod Reddy when coaching at Barrow.

The Westmorland Gazette: Barrow RL's Aussie coach Rod Reddy (centre) copes with a rainy start to summer pre-season training

Rod said: “He was always reliable and nothing was too much trouble. He was a man of all seasons from doing stats to Father Christmas.

“He was my link in keeping the harmony between directors, players and coaching staff. But, above all that, he was a great person that helped me and my wife’s stay in Barrow so memorable.”

A statement from Ulverston Rugby Club posted on social media read: “To many, he was simply ‘Mr Ulverston Rugby’.

“Jos personified the word character. He was funny, engaging, great company, but above all else a thoroughly decent man, who was always there to help and encourage others.

“Jos, you will be sorely missed, but always fondly remembered, by all who had the great fortune to know you.”

Ulverston chairman Tosh Whinfield said: “Josh was Mr Ulverston Rugby for more than sixty years with so many roles under his belt and lately as President. 

"A larger than-life character who just exuded his love for the game and club which rubbed off on all around him. He was one of the most naturally funny peooke anyone could wish to meet and always had a smile on his face. He was a leading figure in getting the Ulverston Sports and Recreation club off the ground a landmark achievement for the club.

"He will not only be missed by all at Ulverston rugby club but the whole rugby community."

He previously held positions as the president of the Auxiliary Branch which provided tens of thousands of pounds to Barrow rugby across the decades.

Alongside Maurice Evans, he also worked for Barrow Raiders as their Commercial Manager bringing much-needed income over a long period of time.

Former Barrow player Phil Atkinson said: “I am absolutely gutted. He has been part of my life for over 35 years. He was with me when I started mini rugby at Ulverston. He was a tremendous help in my career.

“He was also a leading figure in starting up the Ulverston Ladies’ team in the 1980s.

Barrow Lancashire Cup winner in the 1983-84 season Andy Whittle added: “Jos put me in the first team at Ulverston when I was just 15. He was my minder. I owe him so much. He was a true local legend and an all-round nice guy.”

A funeral service will take place at Barrow Crematorium on June 11 at 12:15 pm.