The Port Stephens rugby league community is in mourning following the loss of Nelson Bay father of eight Steve Lingard after a three-year battle with motor neurone disease (MND).
He was 55.
A former carpenter, Steve was diagnosis in 2017 with MND - a progressive, terminal neurological illness with no known cure and no effective treatment - but never let the condition define him.
In fact, the loving husband, father and grandfather retained his appetite for life, his caring nature and sense of humour despite being confined to a wheelchair in his last few months.
Family and friends talked about his ability to take the countless medical setbacks in his stride and his courageously fight till the end. He was a champion bloke who never complained.
"We are immensely proud of him as a father and a husband and an all round good bloke," said his wife of 17 years, Jacki Lingard.
"We are grateful for the support the entire family has received over the last three years, particularly from his amazing team of carers, the Nelson Bay junior rugby league club community and Port Stephens Men of League."
A rugby league tragic born and raised in Carlingford (a suburb of Sydney), Steve moved to the Bay nearly 30 years ago taking a keen interest in watching his sons playing rugby league for the Nelson Bay juniors and volunteering his time on the barbecue.
His other sporting interests included the Supercars, golf and racing.
Grand final day in September 2019 will live long in the memories of all those in attendance and the Lingard family when Nelson Bay Junior Rugby League Club's under 16s - dubbed 'Lingy's Lads' after their number one supporter - took out the decider against South Newcastle 22-4.
Steve's son Rhys made a huge contribution to the victory by scoring a try and being a constant threat on the field.
With his loved ones at his side, Steve died on Tuesday, September 15.
"Steve was truly one of the good ones. A loving husband, dad, foster dad, good mate and an always willing hand - be it volunteering or helping a mate. His spirit and fight was something fantastic to see and he will be so greatly missed," the junior rugby league club stated following Steve's death.
During their games on the weekend (September 19-20), the junior Marlins rugby league club and the Nelson Bay Sharks paid tribute to Steve.
"[Steve] had close involvement with Nelson Bay Junior Rugby League over many years, and half of the Sharks team were involved in charity rounds last year to raise funds and awareness for MND on behalf of the Lingard family," Nelson Bay Sharks First Aid officer Leanne Jenkins said.
"Steve was a loving husband, dad, foster dad and your go-to volunteer. His fighting spirit and love of Parramatta was truly remarkable. He will be missed by all who were lucky enough to know him."
Steve was to be dressed in his favourite Parramatta Eels jumper and footy shorts for his funeral which is due to be held at Salamander Bay's Uniting Church on Tuesday.
Steve is survived by wife Jacki, eight children (including foster children) and one grandchild.