Tributes paid to The Prostate Cancer Charity Ambassador Andy Ripley

Former England Number 8, Lions and Rosslyn Park rugby hero, Andy Ripley, lost his five year fight against prostate cancer in June earlier this year.

The service celebrated Andy's love of life, his mission to make the most of every day, his colossal sporting achievements in rugby, rowing and Superstars and his unswerving devotion to his family and friends.

Speaking at the service, former England and British Lions back row forward as well as grand slam-winning England rugby coach, Roger Uttley, paid tribute to his best friend.

He said: "Rips was my best mate and I miss him. He was a class act and key player in the England Sevens rugby team that competed in the Scottish Centenary Sevens. In the game against Ireland, he actually outran the great CMH Gibson to score a try. He made the same sort of impact then that Jonah Lomu was to make two decades later!

"The 1973-74 season was a big year for us both. Rips had been capped the previous year and I got picked to play alongside him when England played Wales at Twickenham. Surprise, surprise for an England team in the 70's, we managed to beat Wales. Andy was outstanding against the legendary Mervyn Davies.

"His flowing locks with the white tape to keep everything in place and, the occasional wearing of odd boots in an attempt to placate different manufacturers, were all examples of his extrovert character and occasional frivolous acts; but as Shakspeare described Malvolio, 'It is a wise man who can play the fool.'

"He had an ego but he never allowed it to take over. He was a real people person, genuinely interested in others, in what they thought and did, without ever seeking to impose his views on others … he was one of the truly outstanding sportsmen of his generation."

Speaking later, John Neate, Chief Executive of The Prostate Cancer Charity, said: "Andy Ripley inspired and helped thousands of men across the UK come to terms with their diagnosis of prostate cancer as he battled against his.

"Andy's great gift was that he made every person he met feel special and his contribution to The Prostate Cancer Charity's work - raising awareness of prostate cancer and highlighting the importance of more research into this disease - was, and continues to be, immeasurable."

Andy would have been 63 today - 1 December 2010.