Kilwinning Rangers captain Ben Lewis will leave Buffs Park this summer in a major blow to the club's plans for next season.

Boss Chris Aitken admitted he "never saw it coming" after Lewis made the decision to seek pastures new.

The experienced midfielder has made more than 500 appearances for the Buffs over a 16-year period.

The club said earlier this month that Lewis was among six players who had been offered a new contract.

Lewis will now join eight other Buffs players in heading for the exit this summer after the club finished in seventh place in the West of Scotland Football League First Division - with a poor run in the second half of the campaign dashing their hopes of an immediate return to the top flight.

Aitken told the club: “Ben Lewis leaving the club will take some time to get over. He is and always will be 'Mr Kilwinning'.

"To say this was a surprise is an understatement, and one I never saw coming.

"From day one since I came in, Ben was the ultimate professional, and a great guy to boot.

"He leaves with nothing other than our best wishes and we wish him all the best. Good luck Benji.”