Family’s tribute to right to die father

Protesters opposed to assisted dying outside Parliament yesterday
Protesters opposed to assisted dying outside Parliament yesterday
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Friends and family gathered to pay their respects to a man who sparked national debate when he chose to end his own life at an assisted dying clinic.

Mourners yesterday gathered at a packed Lowther Pavilion to say goodbye to dad-of-three Jeffrey Spector who travelled to the Dignitas clinic in Switzerland back in May.

Jeffrey Spector

Jeffrey Spector

The timing of the 54-year-old’s memorial service came as MPs debated the proposed Assited Dying Bill in Parliament, which would give people the right to die.

Mr Spector, from St Annes, flew to Switzerland, where he died on May 22, after a six-year battle with a tumour that risked leaving him paralysed.

Yesterday, friends and family praised his decision and paid their respects to a man who lived life “his way”.

Mr Spector’s sister-in-law Linda Spector said: “Even at the end of his life his thoughts were with his family and how he did not want to burden them with his illness.

He refused to let his illness strip him of his dignity

“He wanted to die on his own terms and refused to let his illness define him and strip him of his dignity.”

She said they spoke at the end of last year about the option of ending his life but that his decision to go ahead with it came as a “shock”.

She added: “He once told me that however difficult the past six years had been, it had given him an extra six years to see his daughters grow that he would not otherwise have had and he was grateful for that.

“He had got to the point where he had made his peace with death and just wanted to be gone.

“It seemed shocking to the people around him but Jeffrey had been preparing for this moment for years.

“I believe that having this choice available to him was his comfort when times were hard.”

Friend Gavin Harris, who was among the six people to travel to Switzerland with Mr Spector, said: “I would say he did the bravest thing possible.”

In a statement, Mr Spector’s wife Elaine andtheir three daughters said: “The great tidal wave of support from family, friends and even strangers has been incredible, a true testament to Jeffrey’s life, his generosity and his understanding of others.”

While the ceremony took place, MPs debated a bill to allow people in Mr Spector’s position the choice to die in this country.

Following passionate debate, which was rekindled following Mr Spector’s death, the bill was defeated by 330 votes to 118.

The MP who put forward the bill said the issue is “extremely unlikely” to be revisited in the next five years.

Right to die: How your MP voted on the controversial issue yesterday

The proposed Assisted Dying Bill was defeated by a majority of 122 yesterday in a House of Commons vote.

Four Fylde coast MPs were among those to vote against the bill – Gordon Marsden, Paul Maynard, Mark Menzies and Ben Wallace.

Intense debate was followed by a free vote, meaning MPs were able to choose according to their own beliefs rather than encouraged to toe the party line.

Labour MP for Lancaster and Fleetwood Cat Smith was the only Fylde coast representative to vote in favour of giving people the right to die.

If approved, the new law would have given people of sound mind and less than six months to live the right to ask for medical help to die. It was the first time since 1997 the Commons had voted on the controversial issue.