A POIGNANT tribute was held in honour of two much-loved members of a rugby league community.

Whitehaven Rugby League players stood in silence to remember Tuqiri Blackwell, a dedicated supporter of the club who died suddenly two weeks ago aged 18, and Jimmy Clements, a stalwart of the club, who passed away in April, aged 82.

It was the team’s first game back with crowds since the pandemic started and players paid tribute to Tuqiri by wearing t-shirts with her picture on.

A minute’s silence was held before the game kicked off and players were joined on the pitch by Tuqiri’s grandparents, Dennis and Susan Mckeown, two of the club’s staunchest fans, and Jimmy’s widow, Betty.

A floral tribute was also laid on the pitch.

Gary Eilbeck, director of Whitehaven Rugby League Club, said it was also a show of respect for all of the lives lost throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

“We have lost that many people through Covid, it’s just nice to remember them,” he said.

Along with fellow director, Mark Stamper, Mr Eilbeck led Tuqiri’s grandparents off the pitch afterwards, shedding a tear with them.

“It was a touching moment,” Mr Eilbeck said. “I don’t think I’ve cried as much since I was 16.”

It was also the unveiling of the Jimmy Clements grandstand, which has been named in honour of the club’s former kit man.

The renaming of the grandstand, which was where Jimmy watched every home game, has been supported by the club’s sponsor, LEL.

An event is now being planned at the club in Tuqiri’s memory which will be held in the next few weeks.

It was due to take place at the weekend but was called off following ongoing issues at the club.

Tuqiri had grown up supporting Whitehaven Rugby League and has been described as a thread in the family of the club.

Her grandparents introduced her to the tradition of following the club and she had been coming to matches since she was a baby.

Her sudden passing had “shocked” and “devastated” everyone at the club.

Jimmy Clements was the club’s kit man for many years and has been described as a “one-off” and “a constant at the club”.

Following his death, the club was inundated with touching messages and floral tributes were laid at the LEL Arena.