A fund-raising effort is underway to bring home a former Wigan man who died while on holiday in Turkey.
Paul Sharp, known to his closest friends as Sharpy, died suddenly in Fethiye last week from what is believed to be heart failure.
But tragically, his body still remains in Turkey because the 55-year-old was refused holiday insurance due to the oesophagal cancer he had been battling for several years.
Now the community is rallying to raise the expensive sum to cover the repatriation costs and bring Paul back home.
To support the campaign, his friends have released a picture of Paul saying it perfectly illustrates his fun-loving nature.
Lifelong friend Paul Stevens said: “He was on holiday with friends and they were due to come back the day he died, but he was taken ill and had to go to hospital.
“Because of the kind of guy that Paul was, he didn’t want to put anyone else out, so he said to everyone: I’ll be alright, don’t worry about me, you get your plane home.”
His friends returned to the UK as scheduled, but arrived home to find out the heartbreaking news that Paul had died.
Paul, who worked in security at Manchester Airport, leaves behind his mother Jean and a brother.
He had lived in Wigan in the early 1990s while married. In the last couple of years he had been living with his mother in Haydock, having returned home after his father and brother died in quick succession.
He was a keen rugby league player and even had spells for St Helens, Widnes and Bradford.
Mr Stevens, 45, from Haydock, spoke fondly of Paul’s “larger than life” personality.
“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 Mr Stevens revealed how even such a daunting diagnosis could not stop Paul from enjoying life.
“He just got on with it, like he always used to. It was only about three weeks ago he was still fund-raising for Children With Cancer. He had done it annually for about four or five years, even before he had cancer himself.”
A Just Giving page has been set up to raise the £5,000 needed to repatriate Paul. Another close friend, Matt Picton, appealed to anyone who wanted to help bring Paul’s body home.
Matt said: “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. I would ask anyone who is in a position to help to please visit the crowdfunding page and donate.”
Click here to visit the JustGiving page