THE devastated family of an Eynesbury man killed by a train have paid tribute to a wonderful father.

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Matt Wray, of Howitts Lane, Eynesbury, died near St Neots railway station on Friday morning.

The 32-year-old’s partner of 13 years, Natasha Dear, 28, said the former Eynesbury Rovers and Great Paxton footballer was the best dad to their three children – Callum, eight, and five-year-old twins Shannon and Sarah.

She said she was now going to try to make Christmas really special for the youngsters, and said she knew Matt would be there with them.

Matt, who is also survived by parents Bridget and Mark Lawrence and brother Andy, was born in Bedford, but spent most of his life in St Neots. He went to St Mary’s Primary School, in St Neots, before attending St Bede’s School, Cambridge.

Lifelong friend Kelly Patel said: “Matt was very popular. We used to hang out in a group of about 20 friends – he was always the life and soul of the party. When anybody dies people always try to think of nice things to say, but there was nothing bad to say about Matt.”

Matt worked for ink cartridge manufacturer Xaar in Huntingdon, and before that Cryovac Sealed Air, in St Neots.

A spokesman for Xaar said: “The company would like to express their great sadness at Matt’s death, and our thoughts are with his family at this time.”

He was a keen Chelsea and Queen of the South supporter, a regular in Eynesbury Rovers FC Reserves, and was heavily involved in the club.

Vice-chairman Graham Mills said: “We’re shocked and saddened. No-one ever had a bad word to say about him. He was down here a couple of weeks ago having a drink and a laugh.

“The club held a minute’s silence before the start of their match against Olney Town on Saturday, and there was a very subdued atmosphere.”

Miss Dear said that on the morning of his death she received a text from Matt telling her that he loved her, followed by “that is all”.

His final Facebook message on the same day read “I’m off to see Cary now” – referring to Cary White, his best friend, who was killed in a car crash in 2001.

Hundreds of friends have left Facebook tributes to Matt, who they described as a “music-loving legend”.

Marie Whittick wrote: “Matt Wray RIP – great footballer – certainly taught me some nifty skills back at school.” And Petra Daly said: “Up in Heaven they have someone new. At those gates Cary’s waiting for you.”

The festival-loving family man often went on long weekends away with his partner and children, the final one being to Blackpool in September.

“We’d just like to thank everyone for their overwhelming support,” Miss Dear said.

His best friend Kelv Maddy said: “All in all, he was a legend.”

An inquest into Matt’s death has been opened and adjourned by the coroner.

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