STARS from the world of athletics have paid tributes to a respected coach, who has died following a long battle with prostate cancer.

Trevor Marsay, who was born and bred in Darlington, was a former coach of 2004 Olympic heptathlon bronze medallist Kelly Sotherton.

He died on Sunday (August 24) at the age of 65.

Mr Marsay's athletics prowess was recognised from a young age and he won a string of awards during his time at Queen Elizabeth Grammar School.

He later relocated to the West Midlands, where he combined his passion for athletics with his day job as a maths teacher.

Ms Sotherton led the tributes, tweeting: "It’s an extremely sad day. He did so much for me. He’s gone too soon."

Other tributes have come from Katharine Merry, who won a bronze medal in the 400m at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney and present-day stars Martyn Rooney and Matthew Hudson-Smith.

Mr Marsay, who was an Aston Villa supporter, leaves his wife Jane and son Phil.

A reunion dinner organised by former classmates, due to be held on September 12, will now be held in his honour.

Alan Curry, one of the organisers of the reunion, said: "Trev would have been at the dinner, but we didn't realise how ill he was.

"He has coached and was coaching some of the stars of international athletics.

"We were all surprised at Trev's achievements, not bad for a Darlington lad, who went to Dodmire Primary School, then passed his 11-Plus and was in the Class of 1960 at Queen Elizabeth Grammar School.

"Our dinner at Blackwell Grange Hotel will be in honour of Trev and anyone that knew him from school is welcome to join us.

"This has left a big community of old boys in shock at the loss of a great friend and character."

The reunion will meet on the steps of the former grammar school, now Queen Elizabeth Sixth Form College, at 2.30pm on September 12, for a tour of the building, followed by dinner.

Mr Curry added: "Unfortunately there is only about 15 of us now, when previously there have been around 30 of the original 120 intake for that year."

A common theme in tributes to Mr Marsay was his sense of humour and knack for brightening up the dullest of days.