A GROUP of nearly 50 women are paying tribute to a much-loved friend who sadly lost his brave battle against cancer this week.
Paul Blackledge, owner of Paul Blackledge Drilling, died on Monday after being diagnosed with a rare form of eye cancer, which he had battled for three years.
In recognition of the 47-year-old father-of-three and his courage as well as the support the family has received from medical professionals, 45 of his friends and family are doing the Race For Life at Haigh Hall on May 20.
Ella Bristow, Paul’s sister-in-law, said: “We are absolutely amazed by the number of people who’ve come forward to say they’re doing the race and that number is growing every day.
“And every single person taking part knew Paul personally.
“He was a brilliant person and would have been the first person to support anyone else doing something for charity.
“Paul’s daughters, Kate, 15, and 17-year-old Ashlee, have really been the driving force behind organising the race and his son, Liam, 14, has done the website.
“This has been something really positive for the children to do for their dad.”
Paul, who was a member of Wigan Scooter Club, was diagnosed with Ocular Melanoma which is a rare cancer of the eye after originally being diagnosed with conjunctivitis about three years ago.
But a trip to the opticians for an eye test revealed the devastating news.
A very large cancerous tumour was found and he was left with two choices- either have his eye removed or have a risky operation where they would try to remove all the cancer out of his eye.
Without hesitation the Standish man chose the option to remove his eye but a biopsy eight weeks later revealed the cancer was particularly aggressive and could spread.
He was scanned regularly after that but 18 months later doctors found that the cancer had spread to his liver and he started chemotherapy treatment.
The family was dealt another devastating blow when after 14 months his body became immune to the treatment and another stint on a new wonder drug did not work either.
Paul, his wife Nicola, and their three children then had to hear the news that there was nothing more that could be done for the family man and he died this week.
He passed away peacefully at home surrounded by his family.
Ella, 47, who is the MD of Sapphire Homes, said: “We originally set a target of £1,500 but there has been such support for the race that we are already close to £4,500.
“People are inspired by Paul’s fight and the sheer amount of support just goes to show how highly he was regarded by so many people.
“Raising as much money as we can is our way of saying thank you to everybody who has helped Paul and the family through such a difficult time. The kids read the messages that people have been leaving the family on the sponsorship website to their dad every night so he knew just what everybody thought about him.
“This event is still gathering momentum and is still escalating from what it was when we first decided we would do the race.”
To make a donation to the cause visit the website www.raceforlifesponsorme.org/drillers-darlings