The funeral will take place tomorrow (Friday) for a Haydock man whose body was left stranded abroad after he died on holiday.
Paul Sharp will finally be given a fitting send-off after incredible efforts were undertaken to raise money to repatriate his body.
Paul, known to his closest friends as Sharpy, died suddenly in Fethiye in October from what is believed to be heart failure.
But tragically, his body still remained in Turkey for weeks because the 55-year-old was refused holiday insurance due to the throat cancer he had been battling for several years.
But his family and friends rallied together to cover the expensive costs of returning his body. Thanks to the generosity of Paul’s former colleagues at Manchester Airport, the people of his hometown Haydock and even from as far afield as New Zealand, over £4,000 was raised to bring Paul home.
He had lived in Wigan in the early 1990s while married, but was most recently living in Haydock, having returned home to live with his mother.
He was a keen rugby league player, and had playing spells for St Helens, Widnes and Bradford.
But Paul wasn’t just known for his sporting prowess. To those around him, he was a larger than life personality, and a “gentle giant” who was widely adored.
Lifelong friend Paul Stevens said: “I first met Paul in the early 1980s at the Boys Brigade at St Mark’s Church. He quickly became a very close family friend to me and my dad.
“He took us all under his wing, he was a gentle giant but he also had a cheeky side, which is why everyone loved him so much.”
He was diagnosed with cancer around two years ago, but according to Mr Stevens: “He just got on with it, like he always used to.”
Paul had even fund-raised for Children With Cancer for years before his own diagnosis. His funeral will take place tomorrow, November 3, at St Marks Church in Haydock, before moving on to St Helens crematorium.
One of Paul’s friends, Matthew Picton, paid tribute to the way Paul led his life before his tragic death.
“When Paul found out he had cancer instead of hiding away from it he became an avid fund raiser for the charity Children With Cancer organising several fund raising events at his local watering Hole, The Blackbrook Workingmen’s Club,” he said.
“Paul was a larger than life character. I have never heard anyone say a bad word about him. He was like a father figure to most and he will be sadly missed. He was a gentle giant and was always there for anyone who needed help.”
Another close friend, Ian Stott, set up the fund-raising page to help bring Paul home.
He wrote that Paul “always had a smile on his face and a kind word for everyone.”
People can still donate at justgiving.com/crowdfunding/paulsharp.