A have-a-go hero who threw himself on top of another man to shield him from being beaten up by a gang has been found dead at home, aged just 23.
Tributes have poured in for “big-hearted” Aran ‘Azza’ Waite, who friends and family have described as a “funny, loving and honest” man who doted on his little girl.
The father-of-one was found collapsed at his home on Manchester Road, Blackpool, in the early hours of Sunday.
Girlfriend Naomi Booth, 24, mother of Aran’s three-year-old daughter Tulisa, today said she would be proud to tell her about her dad as she grew up.
She said: “He was a brilliant dad. He was funny, loving, honest and he’d do anything for anyone.”
Aran, a former Beacon Hill High School pupil, was praised by a top judge last month for his actions which stopped a gang of thugs from beating up a man in Blackpool in the early hours of March 19, 2013.
Aran, then 21, sustained a broken nose as he jumped on top of the victim as he lay on the ground, on Queen Street, and used his knees to protect his head from further injury.
The judge jailing the attackers, Recorder Philip Parry, said though a perfect stranger to the victim, Aran selflessly shielded him, and recommended the High Sheriff of Lancashire give him a £300 reward.
Naomi, a former Hodgson High School pupil, added: “He came home black and blue that night, and I said he had risked his life but he said he’d couldn’t have walked on.
“It just shows how much of a good person he was.”
Friend Joanne Jacklin, 41, added: “He didn’t want praise for it, he was just helping someone. That’s Aran.”
Aran was born in Bradford, but moved to Blackpool with his family, including siblings Nick, 28, Emma, 27, and John-Symon, 23, and dad John ‘Spud’ Waite, 58, in 2003.
The keen footballer worked as assistant manager at Uncle Tom’s Cabin, on Queen’s Promenade, Blackpool, for five years and also played for the venue’s Sunday league football team.
Ms Jacklin, who worked with Aran as his manager at the bar, said he made his mark on the venue. She said: “He was such a well-loved person.
“He had the biggest heart and he wanted to share that with everyone, he was just superb.”
Now brother John-Symon, also 23 but 10 months younger, says the pair will be “forever 23”.
Aran’s family now hope to secure the High Sheriff of Lancashire’s award posthumously, to pass on to his daughter Tulisa to have.
A file is expected to be passed to the coroner pending an inquest into his death.