A newly-married Highland league footballer who was diagnosed with a brain tumour three months ago has died.
Popular 28-year-old Nairn County midfielder Calum Riddell was told he had the tumour, known as a stage 4 glioblastoma, while on honeymoon with new wife Rebekah in July.
Last night, club chairman Donald Matheson led the tributes, saying everyone within the Nairn County ‘family’ had been left devastated by the death.
Mr Matheson said: “We are all absolutely gutted by the news.
“Calum was such a well-liked, bubbly character. He was a livewire who was blessed with humour.
“He will be greatly missed by the team. His banter in the dressing room and on the coach during away matches was brilliant. He had a sharp wit about him.”
The chairman added: “I was in Calum’s company on Saturday night and then was with him again watching the under-15s and under-17s at Nairn Academy. He had a real enthusiasm for the club and the youngsters.
“His death so shortly after seeing him in good spirits has come as a huge shock. It is such sad news. Our sympathies go to Rebekah and his family.”
Nairn councillor Tom Heggie said: “It is a terrible tragedy. His death came quite suddenly and unexpectedly quickly. The community has rallied around the family in a very positive way.”
Nairn County historian Donald Wilson said: “This is tragic news and will be felt by everyone throughout Nairn. He was such a young man at the cusp of his life.
“When he was diagnosed with the brain tumour the town rallied behind Calum and his family. They will do so again following his tragic death.”
A massive fundraising campaign was launched following Calum’s diagnosis. The money was initially to go towards treatment, but it is now expected the thousands of pounds raised will be donated to charity.
His wife and family have insisted a charity football match scheduled to take place on Sunday, between a Calum Riddell Select squad and Nairn County, should still go ahead at Station Park in memory of the player.
Calum, a glazier, had been experiencing dizziness at the start of the year but this progressed to him having double vision at work, and no longer being able to drive.
It was first thought he was suffering from migraines, but he was eventually referred to Raigmore for an MRI.
A biopsy was performed just two weeks before his wedding. The couple agreed that nothing should stop the most important day of their lives and they married on July 22.
Within five days he had the devastating news, while on honeymoon, that it was a brain tumour.
Last night’s Highland League match between Rothes and Nairn County and Saturday’s match between Nairn and Huntly was postponed as a mark of respect.
All the remaining Highland League fixtures will be preceded by a minute’s silence.