West Cumbria’s best-known referee is calling it a day – although he will continue to be involved in the sport.

Gareth Hewer has been a familiar and respected official since he joined the Grade 1 list for the 2004 season, having emerged through the community game in his native Cumbria.

His numerous big match appointments included the Challenge Cup Final at Wembley in 2016 – when Hull FC beat Warrington Wolves 12-10.

Hewer, who turned 40 last month, advised the RFL earlier this year that he would be stepping down from regular officiating at the end of the season because of a change to his shift patterns at Sellafield – although he will continue in a key role assisting in the development of match officials in Cumbria.

The Cumberland ARL is desperately short of referees and Hewer has already offered to help out next season, while encouraging new recruits to the cause.

His top-flight retirement comes at the same time as Tony Martin, whose involvement with dozens of major matches has been as a touch judge.

They include the 2000 World Cup Final at Old Trafford, five Challenge Cup Finals between 2001 and 2010, and 10 Super League Grand Finals between 2000 and 2015.

Steve Ganson, the RFL’s head of match officials, said: “I can’t speak highly enough of the contribution made by Gareth and Tony to rugby league over the last three decades.

“They have been true unsung heroes, which is the way they like it.

“They have earned respect from administrators, coaches, players and supporters of the sport, and played a low-profile part in hundreds of matches at all levels.

“I’m delighted that they will be staying involved in different capacities, such is their love of the sport.

“We thank them and praise them for all they have done.”