CANDLES are being lit as family, friends and fellow athletes say goodbye to Nick Jones this morning.

His wife Caroline and children Jordan and Jasmine will have some family support around them at the funeral of the respected and popular Warrington Athletics Club runner, who lost his battle with cancer at the age of 45 last Tuesday.

But in these difficult times forced by coronavirus, many people who knew Nick are having to stay at home and are lighting candles and saying prayers in tribute as per the wishes of his family.

Caroline said on Facebook a celebration of Nick's life will take place when a 5km run in his honour can be rearranged.

"We can only invite a small number of people to the service. So if you’re at home, please say a prayer for Nick or light a candle for him."

Warrington Guardian:

Among those tributes being left on the Warrington Athletics Club Facebook page are:

Cath Ryder Was McGann: Thinking of you all at this sad time, he'll be watching over you all xx

John Keane: Rip Nick. Thoughts with Caroline and all the family. 🌷xx

Helen Jackson: RIP Nick. Sending love and strength to Caroline and her family x

Joanne Chamun: Thinking of you all today ♥️RIP Nick

Emma Pryor: RIP Nick thinking of you all today love The Pryors x

Sarah Wharton: Thinking of you all today, RIP Nick love the Wharton’s xx

A wonderful tribute to Nick's career highlights how much this 'true gent' achieved.

"What a dedicated and wonderful athlete he was," says the Warrington Athletics Club tribute.

"Nick has been a member of Vale Royal, Tipton Harriers, Salford Harriers and Spectrum Striders before joining Warrington AC in 2012.

"Perhaps his most successful period was from 1998 to 2004 when he represented Great Britain on five occasions:- in 1999 he finished in 58th place in the World Half Marathon Championships (65:57), was second in the Enschede Half Marathon in Holland and was part of the team at the Chiba Ekiden Relay in Japan.

"In 2000 he finished in 81st place in the World Half Marathon Championships in Veracruz Mexico (74:23) and in 2001 he was 51st in the World Half Marathon Championships on home soil at Bristol (64:00).

"During this period he ran three times in the English National Cross Country Championships in 1998, 1999 and 2000 finishing in 25th, 9th and 8th places respectively.

"He also ran 4 times in the National 12 Stage Road Relay collecting 1 gold and 3 silver medals and only lost one place in 2001 but his team came back to win.

"He returned to the race in 2011 after an absence of eight years moving the team up 6 places on the second stage and collecting another gold medal. He also ran in the National 6 Stage Road Relay in 1998 where he collected a bronze medal.

"In 2004 he medalled in the Northern Track 5000 metres and the Northern 5K Road Championships taking silver on the track and bronze on the road. During the period he set his personal best times with 8:26.32 (3000 metres-2004), 14:28.98 (5000 metres-2004) and 29:23.71 (10000 metres-1999) on the track and on the road he set times of 14:32 (5K-1999), 29:27 (10K-1999), 23:20 (5 Miles-1999), 48:20 (10 Miles-2000), 63:12 (1/2 Marathon-2000) and 2:20:22 (Marathon-1998).

"On joining Warrington AC Nick had entered the Masters age group but still continued to collect medals.

"In the British Masters events he won silver at 10000 metres on the track (2014-O/35). From 2015 he was in the over 40 age group and won gold (Cross Country-2015), silver (5K-2016), gold (5K-2017), gold (5K-2018), gold (10K-2018), silver (10 Miles-2018), gold (10000 track-2018) and silver (10K-2019).

"In 2018 he ran for England in the British and Irish Masters International taking the bronze medal in the over 40 age group. He also ran in this International in 2014, 2016 and 2017. These are only a few of his Masters medals and he won many others at Northern and English Championships."