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<strong>Tributes have poured in from home and abroad for a popular former Police officer killed in a road accident over the weekend.</strong><br />
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<em>Welshman <strong>Alan Oliver</strong> – described as a pillar of Bermuda's amateur sporting community – died after appearing to lose control of his motorcycle and hitting a pole on North Shore Road, Devonshire, on Friday night.</em><br />
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Minutes earlier, the 41-year-old had been at a farewell function for departing Police Rugby Club player Peter Elliott at his favourite pub the Robin Hood.<br />
He presented Mr. Elliott with a framed copy of a poem he had written before leaving quietly through the back door – telling friends he was going home to Flatts because he had "an early golf tee off in the morning". Close friends of Mr. Oliver yesterday spoke of their devastation of the loss of the man they say helped transform rugby on the Island.<br />
Tributes were led by members of Bermuda's rugby community, who say he captained the national side for a spell in his prime. More words of support have come from Trinidad, the Caymans and Canada, all areas where Mr. Oliver helped forge links with the Island through the sport.<br />
His former colleagues in the Police and at Bermuda International Airport, where he worked more recently as an aviation security officer, also spoke out.<br />
<strong>Police Rugby Club</strong> – the team he represented and helped run for many years – dedicated their match against <strong>Renegades</strong> to Mr. Oliver yesterday.<br />
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The game was preceded by a minute's silence while Dennis Dwyer, an old friend of Mr. Oliver, agreed to referee despite a serious knee injury.<br />
Inspector Sean Field-Lament, 41, a former colleague and rugby team-mate of Mr. Oliver said: <blockquote><p><img src="http://www.bigblogmedia.com/images/start_quote_rb.gif" align="texttop" /> "The impact Alan had on rugby in Bermuda was huge. He forever changed local rugby.<br />
"He was known not only for his play on the pitch, but for his camaraderie off it.<br />
"He had a real zest for life and enjoyed nothing more than sitting around, rubbing shoulders with the lads after a game.<br />
"Alan was a lovely man who always did the right thing and said the right thing at the right moment. He always had a smile on his face. Everyone he touched was better for it.<br />
"Everyone you speak to will have their own stories about Alan. There's one in particular that sums him up for me.<br />
"Alan was out boating on Paradise Lake on a beautiful summer day with his friends when he was found sitting on a small dock dangling his feet in the water and crying.<br />
"When asked what was wrong, he replied 'it does not get better than this'. They were tears of joy.<br />
"I was not actually there but it is a story that sums up the way he felt about life and the importance of his friends.<br />
"Although he was a very proud Welshman, he definitely adopted Bermuda as his own country." <img src="http://www.bigblogmedia.com/images/end_quote_rb.gif" align="absbottom" /></p></blockquote>Insp. Field-Lament described yesterday's game, which Police Rugby Club won 18-17, as "emotional and passionate".<br />
Mr. Oliver, originally from the Welsh town of Llantrisant, arrived in Bermuda at the end of the 1980s. He worked as a Police officer, gaining promotion to Sergeant in 2003.<br />
He captained the Police rugby side for several years, leading them to the grand slam at one point, and played for the national team for a decade, spending some of that time as skipper.<br />
He was instrumental in setting up the Bermuda Barbarians, who represent the Island overseas.<br />
Sgt. Russell Matthews, 45, worked with Mr. Oliver as a Police officer in Wales and Bermuda, as well as playing alongside him for Police Rugby Club.<br />
<blockquote><p><img src="http://www.bigblogmedia.com/images/start_quote_rb.gif" align="texttop" /> "You would be hard pressed to find anyone who had a bad word to say about Alan," he said. "Not just in rugby, but golf or anything else he did as well.<br />
"Alan had many friends. He was just a well-liked guy. I'm receiving messages from Trinidad and the Caymans. I've had phone calls from people in Canada. The rugby community is devastated about this tragedy." <img src="http://www.bigblogmedia.com/images/end_quote_rb.gif" align="absbottom" /></p></blockquote><br />
Friday night's incident was the second death to hit the Police rugby team in little over a year.<br />
P.c. Paul Marsden, 36, described as a super-fit officer, collapsed from a heart attack while playing for the side at the National Sports Centre in January last year. A memorial match was held in P.c. Marsden's name just last month.<br />
Mr. Oliver's accident happened about 200 metres east of the Barkers Hill roundabout, as he was heading east, at about 10.30 p.m. He was rushed to King Edward VII Memorial Hospital but was pronounced dead shortly afterwards. No other vehicle appears to have been involved in the crash. For the past 18 months, Mr. Oliver worked at Bermuda International Airport, where general manager James Howes described him as a model professional.<br />
Mr. Howes said in a statement released over the weekend: <blockquote><p><img src="http://www.bigblogmedia.com/images/start_quote_rb.gif" align="texttop" /> "Today we learned of the tragic accident which claimed the life of Alan Oliver, our aviation security officer.<br />
"During his time with the Department of Airport Operations, Mr. Oliver distinguished himself for his exemplary service in management of airport security.<br />
"He earned the high esteem of all of us in the airport community for his professionalism and pleasant manner.<br />
"His passing is a staggering loss and he will be sorely missed. His wife and loved ones are in our thoughts and prayers at this time of bereavement." <img src="http://www.bigblogmedia.com/images/end_quote_rb.gif" align="absbottom" /></p></blockquote><br />
Another former colleague, Sgt. Andy Morgan, 41, arrived on the Island from England seven years ago and said Mr. Oliver helped him settle in. He said he would be sadly missed.<br />
<blockquote><p><img src="http://www.bigblogmedia.com/images/start_quote_rb.gif" align="texttop" /> "Everybody over the past two days has been saying what an amazing guy he was," he said.<br />
"There was no edge to Alan at all – he was just a fun-loving, regular guy. He was one of those mates who was always there for you.<br />
"When I arrived here Alan was the guy who took us around, showed us where was where and sorted out where we were living. He totally helped me settle in. I got to know him as a friend from them on." <img src="http://www.bigblogmedia.com/images/end_quote_rb.gif" align="absbottom" /></p></blockquote><br />
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Royal Gazette Chief Reporter Matthew Taylor came across Mr. Oliver when he was the Police's PR man.<br />
He said: <blockquote><p><img src="http://www.bigblogmedia.com/images/start_quote_rb.gif" align="texttop" />"Alan was a lovely bloke – friendly, helpful and with a great sense of humour. He obviously understood the Police and he seemed to understand the press.<br />
"But above all he never stopped being a copper. My favourite story about Alan is when he was on his way back from a press event when he started chasing a guy who was weaving in and out of traffic.<br />
"They both ended up ditching their bikes and Alan chased him and found him hiding in someone's garden. That was Alan – above all a thorough professional." <img src="http://www.bigblogmedia.com/images/end_quote_rb.gif" align="absbottom" /></p></blockquote><br />
Mr. Oliver was renowned for his in-depth knowledge of music and love of trivia, running a popular weekly quiz in the Robin Hood for many years.<br />
His friends at the pub were last night debating whether the quiz should go ahead in his absence tomorrow night.<br />
Mr. Oliver's family members from the UK are believed to be heading over to Bermuda on Wednesday. His devastated wife Crystal was last night said to be shocked but coping well. Funeral details have not yet been released.<br />
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Source: <a href="http://www.theroyalgazette.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070205/NEWS/102050142" target="_blank"><u><font color="#0000CC">Royal Gazette, Bermuda</font></u></a>

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