A Whitby man who raised more than £11,500 for St Catherine’s Hospice after being diagnosed with cancer has lost his battle with the illness.
Kevin Graham, 47, was diagnosed with cancer of the oesophagus in January and passed away at home last week surrounded by his family.
Paying tribute, his wife Susan told the Whitby Gazette: “Kevin was a great family man. It was what he lived for.”
Reflecting on the effort that her husband put into his fundraising campaign, despite being seriously ill, Mrs Graham added: “It was absolutely incredible.
“He just wanted to make something positive out of something negative which would help others.
“He became a bit of a hero in Whitby. Lots of people we didn’t even know came forward to help.
“We even had letters from people who just visit Whitby sending us donations in the post.
“I’m still getting flowers, tributes, cards, people coming to the house – we’re really touched by the response.”
Mr Graham, who was well-known in Whitby having worked in the town’s Jewson branch for 30 years, started fundraising for Saint Catherine’s after being diagnosed with cancer just nine weeks ago.
He was inspired to do so after losing three close relatives to cancer in 2014.
His determination to make something positive come from such a difficult situation struck a chord with hundreds of people, and within weeks his fundraising campaign had garnered more than £11,500.
Mrs Graham said that the support for her husband from the local community had really helped as he battled his illness.
He underwent treatment but the cancer was already advanced when he was diagnosed and he was too ill to attend his big fundraising event, a sponsored head shave, in February.
Fifteen people, including Mr Graham’s sister, Juliet Jewell, had their heads shaved to support him, raising thousands of pounds for the hospice in the process.
Mr Graham had support from a Macmillan community nurse from the Saint Catherine’s team, but when he became very ill last week, he decided he wanted to go home from hospital and he died there on Friday.
He leaves two children, Stacey, 26, and Ricky, 25.
Carolyn Jackson, fundraising manager for Saint Catherine’s, thanked Mr Graham for his fundraising efforts.
“What he did at such a difficult time was exceptional and we are so grateful,” she said.
“The money raised by Kevin and the Whitby community will make a real difference and will be a fitting tribute to a caring and courageous man.”