Tributes paid to popular 'well loved, gentle giant' By Lauren Turner

    07/16/06

    Wales

    Republished courtesy of South Wales Echo (July 13, 2006)

    WLSLezRogers.jpg A 'gentle giant' who had dreamed of playing tenpin bowls for his country has died in Australia on the eve of his full international debut. RAF Sergeant Lez Rogers, 38, flew to Melbourne with wife Kay just days after they celebrated their 19th wedding anniversary.

    But before father-of-one Lez, ranked as Wales' top male tenpin bowlers last year, had a chance to play in the Commonwealth Championships, he collapsed on an evening out with friends.

    There are fears Lez, who had served at RAF St Athan, could have contracted deep-vein thrombosis (DVT) on the 23-hour flight which landed on June 29, the day before he died.

    Kay, 39, who met Lez, originally from Bargoed, when she was just 15, said: 'I'm just glad I was with him, and not on the other side of the world. 'We were childhood sweethearts and were inseparable - like two pieces of a jigsaw puzzle.'

    A post-mortem examination revealed Lez died of a blood clot or a blocked artery.

    Kay, of Regent Street, Barry, said: 'It could have been DVT, because we had flown over the night before.
    'But it will be three or four months before we get the full results.

    'The day he died, we had been to the bowling centre to practice, as the tournament was due to start on July 2.
    'That evening we decided to go out for a meal. We were making a reservation when he fell to the floor beside me.

    'Paramedics tried shocking his heart three times. None of us could believe what was happening. It's like a bad dream.'

    Lez, also known as Toast from his rugby-playing days, was born in Caerphilly and joined the RAF as an aircraft electrical engineer in 1985. He had served at RAF St Athan, RAF Brize Norton, RAF Bruggen in Germany, RAF Halton and was currently at RAF Cosford in Shropshire, where he lived during the week.

    He had another 18 months to serve and hoped to set up a fishing tackle business when he left. Music fan Lez, dad to 11-year-old Carrianne, was introduced to tenpin bowling by Kay and played at the Rhondda Bowl, Tonyrefail, where he ran the Thursday league.

    The proud Welshman tried out for the Wales team for eight years, but just missed out until this year. Kay, who also plays for Wales, said: 'He loved wearing the Welsh shirt for the Welsh team - for him, there was nothing better than that. It meant everything to him.

    'When we landed in Melbourne, he said: 'I can't believe we've finally come.'
    'He was totally chuffed. It was such a shock when he collapsed the next day. It's just a tragic situation - it's not something you can expect at such a young age.

    'He was a gentle giant, and was very loving. He was like my teddy bear.'

    Lez's funeral is taking place at 1pm tomorrow at St Cadwg's Church, Gelligaer.

    Picture courtesy of Tenpin Bowling Association of Wales.