AN all-night search by members of a rugby club for a missing player ended in tragedy when a body was found the next morning.
Jamie Davis (30), a father of two from Christchurch, was described by Iford-based East Dorset RFC head coach Chris Culleton as “a really, really nice lad. He was a great player and the lads at the club all loved him.
“We have all been left shattered by the news, we will miss him greatly.”
Jamie, an army veteran, had gone missing on Friday from an address in Christchurch at 2.30pm. Around 40 players and members of the club responded to an appeal to help police look for him.
Mr Culleton said: “We searched from Swanage all the way down to Totton until sadly we got the news that Jamie had been found at peace.
“We are all heartbroken. We had no idea that Jamie was suffering in the way he must have been, it’s been a massive shock to everyone.
“The match we were due to play against Wheatsheaf Cabin Crew was cancelled. None of the lads were in a fit state to play, they had been out looking for Jamie all night and were left heartbroken by what had happened.”
“Jamie was last seen around 2.30pm on Friday 10th January at an address in the town. A search of the area was carried out into the night.
“Very sadly, in the early hours of Saturday 11th January the body of a man was located in the Totton area of Hampshire.
“While the body is yet to be formally identified, it is believed to be that of Jamie. His family has been informed and is being supported by officers.
“The death is not being treated as suspicious.”
Chief Insp. Lindsay Dudfield said: “Our thoughts are with Jamie’s family and friends at this very difficult time. We would like to thank everyone who shared our appeal and assisted with searches.”
Mr Culleton said Jamie had been playing for the club for four to five years. He played tight-head prop in the number 3 shirt.
He added: “He was a very, very good player, a real club man. He was a regular first-team player and was extremely popular with everyone. He had a great sense of humour and was a good, loyal club man.
“He was extremely well liked by everybody. The messages I have received from other rugby clubs about Jamie have been overwhelming.”
In a statement on its website the club said: “East Dorset RFC are heartbroken and devastated to announce that despite the incredible community effort our prop and number 3 Jamie Davis was found dead in the early hours of this morning.
“We are heartbroken and would like to extend our condolences to his family who will forever be part of ours.
“The club will be open tonight and we invite everybody who ever knew Jamie and those who didn’t but would like to rally into the rugby community.
“Let’s all remember him for the kind, loving man he was and remind ourselves that it’s always okay not to be okay
“He will always be with us. We appreciate everything you do – the heart of our club is our players and you are what keeps us beating regularly.”
A fundraising page for Jamie’s family, which was set up to raise £3,000, had smashed that target within 30 minutes.
On the East Dorset RFC webpage fellow players and those from other clubs paid tribute to him.
James Repper wrote: “Genuinely devastated for you guys, Jamie’s family and him. He was always a quality competitor and top bloke after the matches. All of rugby has lost a brother today.”
Stuart Wilson posted: “Rest in peace our prop Jamie. Taking to the field again is going to be tough. We will play each game now with you in our hearts and win as many as we can.
“We will never forget you!”
Jack Settle wrote: “Having known Jamie for years, he was kind-hearted and a great bloke. I played today, we lost, but my heart lost my mate.”
Frome RFC paid tribute to Jamie saying: “Our condolences to everyone who knew Jamie, such terrible news. Big love from us all at from Frome RFC.”
Ventnor RFC said: “Condolences from all of us at Ventnor. RFC – a loss for one club is felt by all rugby family united on and off the pitch.”
To donate to Jamie’s fund raising page visit www.gofundme.com/f/jamie-davis-memorial-fund.
If you feel you need help please ring the Samaritans’ helpline number 116 123.