Chris Read, one of the Southern Premier League’s most liked and respected umpires, has passed away after a brave battle against prostate cancer.

An accomplished batsman in his playing days with Shirehampton in the old Bristol & District League, Chris was hugely popular and much liked by all players and fellow officials in his long umpiring stint on the local cricket umpiring scene.

Chris was originally in the Police in Bristol and rose to the rank of sergeant. He was seconded to Dorset and worked on the regional crime squad at Christchurch, where he retired after 30 years service.

A postman in the area for a number of years, he became well known locally for being cheerful and always smiling - mannerisms which he took on to the cricket field at weekends and made him such a popular official.

He played for Bashley (Rydal) for several years and, after retiring from playing, served on the committee, acting as vice chairman and helping progress the club to where it is today. He also helped with the work on the ground and was infamous for his accident prone driving of the tractors and outfield mowers.

Blessed with a wonderfully dry sense of humour and never afraid to admit any mistakes he may have made, Chris Read umpired in the SPL for many seasons, ‘managing’ games well and invariably returning to the Bashley (Rydal) clubhouse for a beer and discuss cricket deep into the night.

In a fitting tribute, Bashley (Rydal) chairman John Neal said: “Whatever Chris took out of the game it can be assured that he gave much more back. In whatever capacity, playing, officiating or supporting, he made the game a more enjoyable experience by just being there.”

Appropriately, Chris umpired his last Southern Premier League match at his beloved BCG in August 2015 - all the players that afternoon forming a guard of honour as he left the field for the final time.

As one cricketer from the New Forest area reflected: “Chris was the sort of character who made playing cricket so worthwhile.”

The winter months saw Chris regularly supporting AFC Bournemouth home and away, watching the Cherries meteoric rise from the brink of financial collapse to their coveted place in the Premiership.

A service of thanksgiving for Chris Read’s life is at All Saints Church, Mudeford, BH23 3HS, on Friday (1pm), followed by a wake in the Bransgore Village Hall.