HUNDREDS turned out for a thanksgiving service in memory of Worcestershire County Cricket Club stalwart Damian D'Oliveira.

Family, friends, former team-mates and the current first team attended the service to pay their respects to Mr D'Oliveira, who played for the county between 1982 and 1995, after he passed away aged 53 after a battle against cancer.

The service opened with Elton John's, "The Circle of Life", before Reverend Prebendary Mike Vockins gave his opening prayer.

He said: "Damian was a bit different and liked to do things differently too, which is why it’s so appropriate we celebrate his life here, in the place that was so central to him, and help celebrate the immense success he brought to this club."

A hymn was sung, and the Reverend Father Hugh Sinclair gave a reading of "Corinthians 13", before tributes were made to Mr D'Oliveira who passed away on, Sunday June 29.

His son, Marcus D'Oliveira, said: "He was a loving father and friend to us all, and all these people who have attended here today show how respected and loved my dad was, and the impact he had on everyone he met.

"All who knew him will know a look, a wink or a handshake was more than enough to let you know what he was thinking. He was a man of few words who always knew what to say. He was an impressionable character to all who he met.

"In dad's passing, the good times we had with him become more apparent."

Steve Rhodes, Worcestershire County Cricket Club's director of cricket and former team-mate, said: "My first meeting with Damian was here in this ground in 1981, when I was playing against him.

"Even in that first meeting in the early days, he played every shot like it was his favourite shot. The second meeting was in a nightclub in St John's that night. We became very, very close friends over the next 30 years as team-mates, coaches and directors. He was so important to this club.

"When he was playing, he was one of the most naturally gifted fielders who will ever see, and so naturally athletic and fit he didn't need to train particularly hard.

"Coaching was so important to him, he loved the idea of bringing young players through.

"Through Brett, his son, the Worcestershire cricket's partnership with the 'Dollys' lives on."

The current players gave their own tribute by chanting the team's song when they win, and stamping their bats on the pitch.

Another hymn was delivered by Reverend Mike Vockins, followed by the president of the club, John Elliott, reciting a poem before the service closed.

Mr D'Oliveira, who was coach and academy director at the club, score more than 9,000 first class runs.