THE tragic death of Lt Cdr Ian Molyneux has touched thousands across the country and the community he was part of for more than two decades has paid its own touching tributes.
The Royal Navy is still reeling from the incident and their sadness echoes throughout the Naval community.
A submariner, who wished not to be named, used to work with Mr Molyneux and is also a Weapons Engineer based at Barrow-In-Furness.
He said: “I knew Ian very well and also met Ryan Donovan once before. Everybody is just really shocked. We’re all very close so it is difficult to take this news in.
“Ian was a great bloke and I am sure his family will be devastated.
“It is hard as it is for families to cope given the circumstances of our jobs, but for this to happen is tough for all of us to take. He will be sadly be missed by all who knew him.”
Captain Phil Buckley, Captain of the Faslane Flotilla to which HMS Astute belongs, said: “Ian Molyneux was a thoroughly professional and competent submarine engineer and a great asset to HMS Astute and the Royal Navy’s Submarine Service.
“His untimely death is a big blow to his family, who have the Flotilla’s deepest sympathy. “His loss will also be felt by his shipmates and across the Service. He was, simply, a good bloke.”
Admiral Sir Mark Stanhope, First Sea Lord, added: “This is a very sad day for the Royal Navy and in particular the Submarine Service.
“Our submarines are crewed by a highly professional cadre of sailors, many of whom are actively involved today in operations in the North Atlantic, Mediterranean and Indian Ocean.
“This incident is indeed tragic and the Royal Navy, in cooperation with the Hampshire Constabulary will investigate this incident fully.
“My personal thoughts and sympathies and those of the whole Royal Navy are with the family of Lt Cdr Molyneux, and that of the injured submariner.”
Lt Commander Molyneux’s grieving family is being comforted by their local priest Father Andrew Jolly.
Fr Jolly, parish priest of Sacred Heart RC Church, in Springfield Road, Springfield, today revealed how he was one of the first people to visit Lt Cdr Molyneux’s wife, Gillian, and their four children.
The priest knows the family well, as Mr Molyneux and his wife had been members of the church throughout their married life and were regular church-goers.
Their two sons, St John Fisher High School pupils Jamie and Arron, became altar boys at Sacred Heart Church almost seven years ago, assisting at services. Both are very well-known in the parish.
Fr Jolly said: “I know the family very well and I have been to see his wife, Gillian, and the family. They are doing surprisingly well, considering what they are going through.
“I am sure they will try their best to be positive. It is going to be hard for them, but they will carry on in his memory.
“I knew Lt Cdr Molyneux very well. He was a very kind person and very gentle. He lived for his family, as they were the heart of everything he did.
“He will be sadly missed by everyone who knew him. He was a genuine person who enjoyed life to the full. It was an honour to have him in the church.”
Fr Jolly also revealed how the close-knit Catholic community were shocked at Mr Molyneux’s death, as he was a well-loved figure.
He said: “The couple have been practising Catholics all their lives and in their married life, they lived in this parish.
“The community within the parish is shocked and very supportive towards the Molyneux family.
“They have a lot of friends who are very helpful. They will be there for them and will be in their prayers.
Mr Molyneux’s family has also asked Fr Jolly to lead the funeral service at Sacred Heart Church, although a date is yet to be set.
Coaches and officials at Shevington Sharks have paid tribute to a ‘wonderful and caring man’ .
Lt Cdr Molyneux was coach of the club’s U12s and travelled hundreds of miles to coach his beloved team.
The team has cancelled all matches as a mark of respect to the popular dad-of-four.
travelled hundreds of miles to coach his beloved team.
Club chairman Martyn Ellis and former chairman Steve Dillon said in a joint statement: “We are devastated by this tragic news. Everybody at the club is upset and our hearts go out to the family.”
The team’s managers Bryan and Jackie Fowler said: “Ian was completely devoted to both his family and this sport to the extent that he would regularly travel back from Faslane (in Scotland) and Barrow, giving up his weekends, to coach the children he loved.
“Ian had been involved in coaching junior rugby for almost five years, and while HMS Astute’s sea trails forced him to take a back seat we still heard from him when his circumstances allowed.
“The players and parents are absolutely devastated that such a wonderful and caring man has been taken away so cruelly.”
“He will be greatly missed by everyone who knew him and I know that the world, and the rugby league community in particular, is a poorer place without him. As a mark of respect the U12s will be withdrawing from fixtures until after the Easter break.
“I am sure that the whole of the rugby community will wish to offer their prayers and heartfelt condolences to his wife Gill and their children Jamie, Arron, Bethany and Charlie.”