A POPULAR and 'irreplaceable' gentle giant who died unexpectedly has been described as 'the heart' of Worcester Judo Club.

PC Duncan Jones will be mourned by club coaches and students alike as a gifted teacher and competitor who would always go that extra mile to help others but also remembered fondly as a man who will remain a source of inspiration to members for many years to come.

The 41-year-old of Ronkswood, Worcester, died on Wednesday, July 16 after he was taken ill at the club in the city's Foregate Street.

One of his top students, Sian Bobrowska, 13, who was at the club when he became ill, said she was 'devastated' by the death of her mentor and has even had her his name embroidered on her belt (the obi) as a mark of respect to PC Jones, whose full police funeral takes place at St George's Church, St George's Square, Barbourne, Worcester tomorrow (Friday) at noon.

The club's vice-chairman, Mike Evans, said PC Jones was undoubtedly one of the best coaches in the club if not the region who would always persevere with his students and get them to a level the other coaches could not.

Mr Evans, speaking to your Worcester News reporter from club, said: "In simple terms, he made judo easy. Whenever a coach could not get through to somebody you sent them to Duncan. This club has a lot of great coaches but he is irreplaceable as a friend and a coach. His legacy will carry on but his determination and effort is unmatchable. He was the heart of this club. The club will carry on but he does leave a big hole."

He would often use his own time to give people one-to-one training, going over techniques again and again until he was sure the person he was teaching had got the move right.

PC Jones, who took up judo at the age of five, had been coming to the club since it was founded by his later father, Phil Jones, in 1983. PC Jones followed in his father's footsteps and became chairman of the club. He was a national police judo champion three years running and even performed 60 throws in 60 seconds for TV show "You Bet!"

Despite Duncan's size (he was 6ft 2ins and 15 stone) he understood that judo was about timing and technique rather than physical strength and he would use a motto which many club members came to repeat and embrace when they were competing. PC Jones would use the acronym "SMASH" (strength, movement, agility, skill and honour) which he believed were integral to good judo. The club has 70 plus members and it is expected that all of them who can will attend his funeral and many others who knew him from other judo clubs. It is a measure of how important PC Jones was to the club - and the club to him - that members have been invited to the private, family part of the funeral at Worcester Crematorium.

Mr Evans said he remembered hearing people "wince" when PC Jones would throw him because of his speed and accuracy and members would joke he was trying to give the club, which is above Gala Bingo, a new basement.

Another coach and friend, Jane Burns, said: "When Duncan threw you the floor shook and when Duncan was against Phil (his brother) the building shook. It was almost a competition to see who could make the most noise. He liked to see people enjoy the sport as much as he did."

Another coach, Alan Cooper, said: "He was one of those blokes who was good at everything. I was 47 years old when I started learning judo. If he can get me through to black belt he could have got anyone through."

The cause of PC Jones' death remains inconclusive after a post-mortem was carried out.