Saints players hail former chairman Barwell

COMMANDING RESPECT - former Saints chairman Leon Barwell was a popular figurehead at Franklin's Gardens (picture by Kelly Cooper)

COMMANDING RESPECT - former Saints chairman Leon Barwell was a popular figurehead at Franklin's Gardens (picture by Kelly Cooper)

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Current Saints players have taken to Twitter to hail Leon Barwell, who stepped down as club chairman on Thursday.

Barwell, who took over the role in September 2011 from his father Keith, has taken the decision on health advice.

The 46-year-old was a popular figurehead at Franklin’s Gardens, drawing respect from all quarters.

He has helped enhance the club’s relationship with its supporters through initiatives such as a fans’ forum and an open day.

Barwell has helped the club remain hugely competitive on and off the field and members of the current Saints squad wasted no time in heaping praise on him.

Tom Wood, currently captaining England in Argentina, said: “Really sorry to hear Leon Barwell has decided to step down. Great man and family that have done so much for the Saints.”

Stephen Myler, who is with Wood in South America, added: “Really sad news that Leon Barwell has decided to step down. My best wishes to him and his family, who have done so much for Northampton.”

And Paul Diggin, the longest serving member of the squad, said: “Sad to hear that Leon has had to step down great bloke! #SaintsNation”

Vice-chairman Tony Hewitt has temporarily stepped into the role vacated by Barwell, who will remain on the club’s board of directors, as the search for his successor goes on.