THE family of a former Ireland table tennis international killed in a motorway pile-up in England on Monday say they have "lost their rock".
Aidan Walsh, 52, originally from Dublin, died after his van was crushed between two lorries on the M5 near Droitwich Spa, Worcestershire on July 30.
The incident occurred in the northbound lane close to junction 5 at approximately 3.10pm.
Father-of-two Aidan, who represented his country in a number of international events at both junior and senior levels, was tragically pronounced dead at the scene.
Occupants of the two other vehicles involved received treatment for minor injuries.
'Selfless and strong'
In a statement released through West Mercia Police, Aidan's family paid an emotional tribute to their loved-one and urged witnesses to the crash to come forward.
"Although in such horrifying circumstances, it's difficult to remember Aidan in any way other than a devoted husband and loving father," the family said.
"He was an immensely proud father to his two boys, Shay and Sean, and a dependable and much-loved son, brother and uncle".
The statement added: "He came to England in the early 1990s, leaving his beloved Dublin and a successful international table tennis career representing Ireland to help bring up his nieces and nephews following the also untimely death of their father.
"This summed up Aidan's selfless attitude and strong moral character. The family have truly lost their rock".
West Mercia Police are continuing to appeal for witnesses to the pile-up to come forward, particularly any motorists who use dashcams.
"We would like to take this opportunity to thank people for the many wonderful messages we have received from our friends," the family continued.
"We would also like to take this opportunity to urge anyone who can help police with their inquiries to come forward."
Speaking about Aidan's heartbroken wife and sons, the statement added: "The courage and support his two children have shown to his mother in this last awful week is a testimony to the man.
"His influence and personality truly lives on in his boys."
In another statement, Table Tennis Ireland president Ken Strong expressed his profound sadness at news of Aidan's death.
"I am personally very sorry to hear of Aidan's death and pass on the association's sympathy to his wife, Jayne, and family in England and also to his relatives and friends in Ireland.
"Aidan was one of the most pleasant people in our sport, both on and off the table."