TRIBUTES have been paid to a cricket umpire known across the region as ‘Mr North Hampshire’.

Richard Fernée, who lived in Pamber Heath, died on March 26, at the age of 79, following a battle with motor neurone disease.

Born in Balham in south London in 1939, Mr Fernée, an avid cricket fan, held the role of secretary of the North Hampshire Association of Cricket Officials (ACO) for 33 years, from 1981 until 2014.

After national service with the Queen’s Royal Surrey Regiment, Mr Fernée married his wife Pam in September 1963, before the pair moved to Truro where he initially started playing cricket.

However, he then decided that he preferred to be umpiring rather than playing, and he duly progressed to full membership of the Association of Cricket Umpires (ACU).

When Mr Fernée moved to Pamber Heath in 1980, he was invited to join the umpires panel of the Thames Valley Cricket League, and he was still umpiring at the highest level in this league until he retired in 1998 due to eyesight problems.

As secretary of the North Hampshire ACO, he jointly coordinated the provision of umpires for the Guy Jewell Cup, a limited overs competition run by Basingstoke and North Hants Cricket Club, and during this time he also organised the umpires for the Basingstoke Indoor League with Doug Martin.

Peter Towndrow, North Hampshire ACO training officer, said: “Richard ran all the umpire training courses in North Hampshire, without any support, from 1982 until 1999, when he introduced an assistant tutor to the training system.”

Mr Fernée also worked for a number of charities and was a keen motorcycle enthusiast.

Mr Fernée’s funeral will be held on Friday at West Berkshire Crematorium, with donations to Guide Dogs for the Blind and Motor Neurone Disease Association.