Tributes to ‘gifted’ rugby club employee who died from ‘Covid complications’, aged 35

Family, friends and colleagues have paid tribute to an ‘unsung hero’, who died from complications related to Covid-19.

Andrew Parkinson, 35, lived in Leigh his whole life and worked as an IT manager for rugby league club Leigh Centurions.

Leading the tributes to him, his older brother David told the Manchester Evening News : “He was always good with sorting computers out from a young age. If there was ever anything wrong he’d be the one to put it right. He was very gifted with that.

“He was pretty entertaining as a kid, he was always trying to do impressions of people off the telly.

“The club’s been magnificent. He was really well thought of from everybody there and we’ve had so many messages from people across the town.

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Andrew contracted coronavirus just before the New Year and passed away on Saturday (January 9).

“I was shocked by how quickly the virus got hold and affected him,” David added.

“We had it all the way through the household. I got it just after Christmas and then our Andrew got it just before New Year so you’re only talking eight or nine days until he passed away.

“He was a big fella so unfortunately he had health issues.

“It’s been more difficult for my mum and dad. I’ve just about got my emotions in check and there’s no way I’d have been able to have this conversation two or three days ago but it’s been tough.”

Andrew went to Gilded Hollins Primary School and Lowton High School, before getting his job at Leigh Centurions around 15 years ago.

Club chairman Mike Latham also paid tribute to Andrew.

In a statement on the Leigh Centurions website, he said: “When Leigh Centurions achieved their Betfred Super League bid, no one was more delighted than Andrew. Few played a bigger part in the process.

“Andrew was one of the unsung heroes, a young man with wide-ranging talents, in the back office. Throw him a problem and he would solve it. He invented multi-tasking. Remained ever polite and upbeat while doing so.

“As we look forward to 2021, news of his sudden passing was devastating for the Centurions family. No one could have been more careful than Andrew and his family to shield from this ruthless virus as he had long been isolating at home and respecting all the rules.

“He always said the Lockdown suited his lifestyle, because apart from going to work, visiting his favourite Indian restaurant for a takeaway, or trusted colleagues and friends when allowed, like our highly respected ex-chairman Brian Bowman, he was a home bird, who built up an incredible encyclopaedic knowledge of iconic TV series like Dad’s Army and The Bill.

“His ringtone was always ‘The Undertaker’ from WWF and he’d love listening to the radio at work.

Leigh Sports Village, where Andrew Parkinson worked
(Image: Google Street View)

“As chairman I had the solemn task of telling as many people as I could of the dreadful news before social media got there first. The reaction I got from everyone, as I worked my way through my phone contacts A-Z was all the same. Complete devastation.

“Andrew was, quite simply, a good guy. One of the best I’ve ever worked with in 40 years. Hugely talented, loyal, a proud Leyther, always there, day and night to help you, or post a story on the club website he created on his days off, respectful, friendly, cheerful, always optimistic. Font of knowledge. Good days and bad he was always there, always the same.

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“In the immediate aftermath of his passing, at such a tragically young age, I’d like to dedicate Leigh’s hard-won Super League place to him. Because without Andrew Parkinson, Leigh Centurions wouldn’t be in Super League in 2021. He was the glue that held us all together.”

Head coach John Duffy added: “It has knocked us all west this one, big time! Absolutely devastated! I personally have known Andrew (Big Bear) since he started working for the Club at Hilton Park many moons ago!

“He was the same person then as he was the last time I was with him 12 months ago. A very kind and compassionate man who would 100 per cent put the Club and everyone involved before himself.

“Andrew has always been our secret weapon! He would never want me to say this, but many times the rugby club wouldn’t have been able to function without him. He knew this but would never ever want anyone to know or take credit. He was an absolute legend who impacted on all our lives for many years and I will miss him dearly. RIP mate, Duffs.”

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