Gerard Stokes, former New Zealand rugby player and father of England all-rounder Ben Stokes, passed away on Tuesday, after a prolonged battle with brain cancer.
Gerard, 65 was diagnosed with the illness in January and spent five weeks seriously ill in a Johannesburg hospital earlier this year. Stokes senior had returned home in Christchurch, where he was living with his wife Deborah at the time of death.
In the wake of his father’s illness, Ben was granted indefinite leave during England’s Test series against Pakistan in August.
“It is with great sadness that we learn our former player and coach Ged Stokes has passed away,” the Workington Town, a rugby club for which Ged had played for in 1982-83 season, wrote in a tribute on Twitter.
“Ged is written into the rich fabric of Town history and will be greatly missed.
“Our thoughts are with Deb, Ben and James. Ged still has many, many friends here in West Cumbria and we send our thoughts to them too. RIP Marra.”
Sad news. RIP Ged. pic.twitter.com/KmEDFuLRUd
— Workington Town (@WorkingtonTown) December 8, 2020
Ben’s IPL franchise Rajasthan Royals (RR) also took to Twitter to express their heartfelt condolences. “RIP Ged Stokes. One of the greatest characters in our special cricket family. We’re with you Ben. Strength to you and your family,” tweeted RR.
RIP Ged Stokes. One of the greatest characters in our special cricket family.
We're with you Ben. Strength to you and your family 💗🙏 pic.twitter.com/jA2EA0DVIk
— Rajasthan Royals (@rajasthanroyals) December 8, 2020
Earlier, in a column on Daily Mirror, Stokes had expressed the importance of his family to him.
“Saying goodbye to my dad, my mum and my brother in Christchurch was tough,” he wrote in October. “It has been a difficult time for us as a family, but we’ve pulled together and supported each other as best we can. And I was able to get on the plane with my parents’ love and blessing after we reached the decision, for me to get back playing, as a family with no external influences.”