TRIBUTES have poured in for the town’s “gentle giant” who died in a motorbike accident near Andover this week.

Popular Andover Rugby player Declan Gillan was travelling on the B3400, near Hurstbourne Priors, on Tuesday evening when he was involved in a motorcycle accident.

Emergency services were called at 5.15pm but Declan was pronounced dead at the scene.

The motorcyclist, who was in his 20s, worked as a tree surgeon at Groundlord and was described as a “golden lad” by the business owner, Josh Pritchard.

On the night of his accident, Declan had finished work early but Josh said he had volunteered to go back to help out his teammates finish a job in a gesture that was typical of his good-hearted nature.

“He called one of the other teams who hadn’t quite finished yet – and this was classic Dec,” said Josh.

“He called through to the others and said, ‘do you want a hand?’ to help them finish early, which was just out of the kindness of his heart.”

He said it was on the way back from helping his teammates that the accident happened.

“He had gone and helped out the lads. That was his ethos,” Josh added.

“He was doing a good deed at the time.”

Declan had started working at Groundlord after Josh asked him to run a new section in the company, which Declan soon transformed into a £200,000 arm of the business.

“He was just a massive part of my company,” said Josh.

“He was a golden lad really. Nothing bad you could say about him. Genuinely just 100 per cent a solid gold boy.

“He’s going to be massively missed by everyone.”

Declan previously attended the Clere School, in Burghclere, before studying at Sparsholt College.

Friends said he will be remembered as a man who loved his family, and was also a keen sportsman.

He had represented Andover Rugby Club for almost two decades, playing his first game for the All Blacks at just seven-years-old.

A club member echoed the words of Declan’s boss, adding: “You wouldn’t find anyone with a bad word to say about him. He was just a gentle giant.”

An official statement from a club spokesperson read: “It is my desperately sad task to announce the passing of our dear friend Declan Gillan yesterday in a road accident.

“Dec has been a huge part of our club and our lives since he first played for us eighteen years ago at just seven years old.

“A big man with a big heart and a big sense of humour, we are all devastated at his loss.”

Many more friends and loved ones have taken to social media to write tributes to Declan. More than 150 people shared posts on the day the news broke alone.

A number of them described their friend as the “most caring” and “kindest” person they knew.

One wrote: “You were a one in a million guy and there isn’t a person out there that can say a bad word against you. You were there for everyone, day or night, at good times and even more so the bad. We all love you so much the most amazing friend and in the truest meaning of the BFG.”

Others recalled Declan’s great sense of humour, with one person writing: “There was never a dull moment when you were around and I don’t think I ever laughed as much as I did when I was with you!”

Josh, from Groundlord, shared another story which shows how funny – and respected – Declan was, even by those he had only just met.

“One of my funniest memories was a works night out,” Josh recalls.

“A doorman said to me, ‘not tonight mate,’ and Dec just picked him up and put him behind me and said, ‘don’t worry, he’s with me, there’ll be no trouble tonight.’”

Another person writing on social media added: “If the world was full of people like you, the world would be a better place.”

Police have issued an appeal following the crash. Anyone with information is asked to call 101.