A community is in mourning after the sudden loss of a much-loved dad, husband and football coach, who would do anything for anyone.
Jimmy Ryder-Somerville died after a heart attack on Sunday, doing what he loved, coaching and playing football.
The 48-year-old, dad-of-one, had previously coached the under-sixes Longhoughton Lions team, who played outside for the first time this year, and was half way through the first Spitfires walking football match at Westfield Park in the village when he collapsed.
Sadly, despite attempts to save him, including CPR administered by his wife, Sam, Jimmy passed away.
For Sam, 36, and the couple’s five-year-old son Charlie, the world has been torn apart.
And his death has shocked the community far and wide with messages of love and support for his family coming from clubs, teams and individuals all over.
Sam, who married Jimmy in 2014, after meeting him when he coached the Longhoughton Rangers women’s team, said: “Jimmy was a loving, calm and kind man and he was an amazing dad. All he wanted was a child and Charlie was his absolute world.
“And now they have been robbed of each other.
“We are just devastated, but if Jimmy could have written his ending it would have been this way – in his football kit, on the sideline, coaching his football team, having coached the children’s team, and at Westfield Park.
“Everybody he would have wanted to be there was there. It was the way he would have wanted it.
“Jimmy always put other people before himself. He and Charlie were a dynamic duo, they were always getting up to mischief.
“If Jimmy had to work on a Saturday, he would take Charlie with him, and so he spent the day with his son the day before he died.
“He was my best friend and I will miss him every day.”
Jimmy loved football, it was his passion, and he spent a long time working with Longhoughton Rangers.
The night before he died Jimmy and Sam had stayed up organising new football strips for both the Longhoughton Lions U6s team and the Spitfires.
“We were going to book our summer holiday that night,” Sam said.
“But we stayed up late sorting out the kits. We designed the logo and everything for the Spitfires, it was his team. The strips were a surprise for all of them and he laid them out for the team on Sunday.
“We didn’t get round to booking a holiday because we ran out of time.
“We went to bed shattered but rewarded with what we had done for other people. And that was Jimmy.”
Sam and Charlie were at Westfield Park when Jimmy collapsed.
She added: “We had had the best coaching session with the Lions ever on Sunday morning.
“His Walking Football team was next and it was their first match. He was so proud to have pulled it all together.
“He had done everything for it and everything was for that day.”
The team had been so popular that Jimmy had had to split them into two.
He didn’t play for the first quarter, he wanted to watch his team play. But he came on for the next 15 minutes.
He had just come off the pitch, and Sam and Charlie were walking to him from the park when she heard someone shout ‘ref, ref 999’.
Sam instinctively knew someone needed help and ran over to find Jimmy on the ground.
The defibrillator was used on him, CPR was given and ambulances and police arrived. The Great North Air Ambulance was also called and then stood down.
Sadly, nothing could be done to help Jimmy.
Sam said: “Thankfully, Charlie was kept away from him. When I saw him there, I just knew. Jimmy wasn’t the sort of man to just go down. He wouldn’t even tell me if he was poorly.”
Jimmy’s Longhoughton Lions team was due to be mascots at Morpeth Town’s match on Saturday, March 16, and Sam wants the event to go ahead in Jimmy’s memory.
“He would be so annoyed if I cancelled it,” she said.
And while no funeral arrangements have yet been made, donations will be made to the Bobby Robson Foundation, as Jimmy idolised Bobby Robson and Longhoughton Rangers at both the Mascots day and his funeral.
There will also be an RAF guard of honour at the funeral, to mark his 22 years’ service in the force.
“He gave us the best, now we can give him the best back,” Sam added.
Jimmy finished his RAF career at RAF Boulmer and was a huge football fan, avidly following Ipswich Town FC.
News of Jimmy’s death has spread across the region and there have been numerous messages of support for his family.
On Sunday, Sam posted a message on the Longhoughton Lions Football Club page to let everyone know about the tragedy. Tributes to Jimmy have flooded in since.
Here are some of them, including from Stew Case, chairman of Longhoughton Rangers: “Jimmy was well known, liked and loved by all who knew him. His contributions and achievements with Longhoughton Rangers is beyond measure. He was a well respected volunteer at the club before qualifying as a FA qualified coach and managing both boys and girls squads, ladies and adult teams spanning well over a decade.
“His voluntary work with Longhoughton Rangers is widely recognised and he holds honorary life membership. Every child who was involved in his football teams enjoyed themselves, felt valued and were embraced in a positive team ethos.
“Every football project he undertook was innovative and has produced some truly outstanding work with the youngest of children over their most important development years; as shown with his formation of a Longhoughton Lions Academy – a thriving group of U6s who love the fun and inclusion of football activities preparing them for progression into grassroots team football. Energetic, positive and inspirational not only in the way he coached, but also generally how he treat and talked to all those around the game, a game he clearly loved.
“His steadfast dedication and support to our community football club is truly remarkable and he leaves a lasting legacy.”
Andy Wilton “Just the worst day ever, thoughts are with Sam, Charlie and family. The emergency services said those that helped him prior to their arrival had done everything possible. Incredibly sad day, he was a great guy and a real friend.”
Stephen Patterson “So sad to hear this today, thoughts are with Jimmy’s family and all connected with the club from everyone at Alnwick Town Juniors.”
Sasha Wells “So sad to hear this news, Jimmy was fantastic with all the kids, and played a massive part in teaching them to love football as much as he did. He will be truly missed and was an inspiration to all the Lions and families. Big love to you all. X”
Kerry Grisdale “So sorry to hear of Jimmy’s passing today – such a lovely man, with such a passion for the game. He was successful in bringing girls/ladies football to our area.Thoughts to you all.”
Steph Lindley “This is so sad. Jimmy was the kindest man who was instrumental in developing girls’ football. Our girls were so lucky to share his passion. Sending love to Sam, Charlie and his family.”
Matthew Potts “Awful news, especially for someone who devoted so much of their time to others! Sending thoughts to Jimmy’s family, friends and those at the club from Ashington CFC Juniors.”
Neil Osborne “Terrible news. I’m sure everybody at Alnwick Rugby Club Mini and Juniors section will join me in offering our sincerest condolences at this devastating time.”
Ryan Jobson “Very sorry to hear of Jimmy’s passing. His love and enthusiasm of football ensured that many children enjoyed the game and developed into good players. Thoughts are with his family and friends.”
Andy Thorpe “Football has lost a good man. RIP Jimmy.”
Katherine Russell “I’m so sorry to hear such sad news about Jimmy. He contributed so much to the growth of Girls/Women’s football and he was always a fun and cheerful guy to be around. My thoughts are with his family.”
Gill Barrett: “Tragic news. Jimmy was such a lovely man with such passion and commitment for football and the area. He was instrumental in setting up girls football in the area and many of our ladies wouldn’t be playing today without this. Sending much love and thoughts to his family.”
Burradon Juniors Football Club “So sorry to hear this, sending thoughts to family, team, club and friends.”
And on the Longhoughton Rangers Page Ellie Philips Chairman of Longhoughton Community & Sports Centre said: “ On behalf of everyone at the Trust, I offer our deepest condolences to Jimmy’s family, friends and colleagues at this terribly tragic time.
Jimmy was a kind, thoughtful and dedicated man who truly loved his football and the children and adults he coached.
“He’ll be sorely missed I’m sure by everyone whose life he touched.”