Published: 12:00, 01 January 2020
A community has been left in mourning after the death of a "larger than life" rugby coach.
More than £20,000 in donations have poured in to support the family of 43-year-old Michael 'Fergy' Gask, who passed away on Sunday, December 15.
The father-of-three was found dead in Highgate Hill, Hawkhurst shortly before 7pm, during a police search after he was reported missing.
A helicopter was called in to help scour the village.
The former Royal Marine Sergeant, who lived in Hawkhurst, coached and played for Cranbrook Rugby Club.
A tribute on its website said: "Cranbrook RFC is very sad to announce the sudden passing of Fergy Gask.
"Fergy was a mini team coach on Sundays and brightened up the rugby field on a Saturday.
"He will be sorely missed and the club sends its heartfelt best wishes to his family at this very difficult time."
Following the tragedy two online fundraising pages have been set up to raise money for his funeral - one having collected more than £20,500 and the other upward of £1,000.
Set up by pal James Parkinson, the first page reads: "Sgt Fergy Gask was a Royal Marine, a legend, a best friend. But more importantly he was a husband, a father and a son.
"We need to do all we can to help facilitate his family with the cost of the funeral and give him a proper send off."
Tributes have also been paid to Sgt Gask online with people describing him as "a great guy" and an "absolute gentleman".
Tom Dinnis said: "He was my brother and my friend. I’m going to miss him, especially his infectious roaring laugh."
The second fundraising page has been created on behalf of FN Herstal UK, a firearms and ammunition company formerly known as Manroy.
Sgt Gask joined the company in 2010 after leaving the Royal Marines following tours in Northern Ireland, Iraq and Afghanistan.
He worked in product support for the weapons department.
A statement from the firm says: "This has come as a huge shock to all at FNH UK where he was a much loved, larger than life character who will be missed be everyone.
"It is devastating that at such an early age of 43, we should lose someone so respected, professional, enthusiastic and well liked."
"Fergus leaves behind a wife and three young children. The funds raised will go directly to Fergy’s family to try in some way to help them in this very difficult time for them."
An inquest into the circumstances around Sgt Gask's death is due to open on Monday, January 6.
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