Tributes have flooded in for a ‘giant in the community’ who was a sporting inspiration to youngsters across the island.

Rugby fanatic Devrae Noel-Simmons died this week at the age of 45.

His sudden and tragic death left friends, teammates and students shocked and devastated.

And many took to social media to express condolences to Mr Noel-Simmons’ beloved wife, Sue, and his young son, Dante.

The family had just recently returned from a Christmas trip to the UK when the former body builder fell ill.

Yesterday John Layfield, who worked with Mr Noel-Simmons on the successful Beyond Rugby programme, led the tributes to the popular community figure.

He said: “Bermuda, and I, lost a great friend with the passing of Devrae.

“He was a big man with a bigger heart, love the guy and the difference he made in youth here on our island home.

“He will be sorely missed. May God Bless his family and especially his wonderful young son Dante.”

Mr Noel-Simmons had been a semi-pro footballer, a champion bodybuilder and a national team rugby player during his sporting career.

The Mohawk-headed family man also ran as a political candidate for the United Bermuda Party in Warwick in 2010.

He served the Bermuda Rugby Football Union as a coach and volunteer for many years working with youngsters of all ages.

Mr Noel-Simmons also made a huge contribution to the Bermuda Sanshou Association and gave up huge amounts of his time to train and condition the club’s athletes.

Association president Garon Wilkinson described his friend as “devoted family man” and a “proud Bermudian”.

He added: “I first met Devrae as a teenager and he was a big brother figure for me growing up.

“He was one of the original guys in the Association and gave up so much time to help others.

“I have known him a long time now and am in complete shock that he is no longer here. 

“This is a huge loss to Bermuda. He loved his country and he had the ability to make other people believe they could achieve incredible things.”

Mr Wilkinson told the Sun that his association would now look at ways they could help support his wife, Sue and son, Dante.

Meanwhile last night the president of the Bermuda Rugby Football Union, Sean Field-Lament, described Mr Noel-Simmons as a fierce competitor whose contribution to sport on the island was ‘immense’.

He added: “He was a fine ambassador for Bermuda Rugby.

“His loss to the BRFU is incalculable.

“Our profound condolences to his family on their loss and may they find solace in the fact Devrae touched so many lives in such a positive manner.”