‘It is a comfort to know he touched so many lives’

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The mum of a man who died following his battle with a rare form of cancer has today told of her gratitude to the football fans who led a minute’s applause in her son’s honour.

Dad-of-two Barney Woolcock died in Trinity Hospice on Friday at the age of 35.

Fans at the game between Blackpool and Fleetwood, who Barney regularly went to see play, broke out into applause in the 35th minute to pay their respects.

The 35-year-old, described in tributes as a ‘true gentleman’ and an ‘inspiration’, had been battling Burkitt lymphoma, which affects just 210 people a year in the UK.

His mum Judy said: “Everyone has been so kind and supportive, in raising money and with their messages.

“The applause at the football match was a lovely gesture and he would have been so proud.

“We are so grateful to everyone for their kindness.

“Barney was always on the go and never gave up. He was so dynamic and losing him is such a shock.

“I can’t believe he is gone but it has been such a comfort to know that he touched so many people’s lives.”

She was also full of praise for the staff at Trinity Hospice, where her son was admitted on April 6.

“They were wonderful – nothing was too much trouble and they really looked after him,” she said.

“Last Monday was the 10th birthday of Barney’s daughter Evie and on Wednesday, he was strong enough for her to go into the hospice and open her presents.

“He had bought her a new gymnastics outfit and she was able to change into that and he was so proud.

“That really meant a lot to him and to us.”

Barney, also dad to four-year-old Max, was first diagnosed the same day his sister Louise – who died at 21 after her own cancer fight – would have turned 46.

Athletic dad-of-two Barney was just days shy of his 10th birthday when Louise died after a three-year battle with rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare soft tissue cancer, at the age of just 21.

Along with family members, Barney’s best friend Mike Pearce was at his bedside when he died.

He said: “It’s hard to put into words how I feel. Losing my best friend and best man for my forthcoming wedding has left me feeling empty and numb.

“He was truly like a brother to me since the day he moved in next door in 1984 and we were inseparable at Baines School.

“He fought until the very end and was an inspiration to so many.

“It was typical of Barney that he was always thinking of others. Knowing he is at peace now is the only positive.

“I am going to miss him so much but will never forget the good times we had together.

“I still can’t believe he has gone – I still expected him to call or put something on Facebook – but his memory will never be forgotten.”

TV entertainer Jon Culshaw, a family friend for 25 years, was in touch with the family with his own tribute, which included: “Barney’s signature in his messages was always to end on a positive note.

“His amazing example will continue to inspire.”

Fleetwood head coach John Sheridan said after the match at Bloomfield Road on Saturday: “It is a sad occasion - you don’t want that to happen to anyone, family, friend, supporter.”

Hundreds of tributes were left on Barney’s Facebook page over the weekend.

Tracy Bury wrote: “You will always be a true inspiration, a brave warrior and a beautiful soul.”

Alana Ritcho posted: “To say you were an absolute trooper until the end is an understatement.

“You were, and will continue to be an inspiration to all of us who had the pleasure of knowing you.”

Paul Wilde wrote: “RIP Barney you fought so hard and are a real inspiration to so many.”

And John Stoddard posted: “Your children will grow up knowing their dad was a gentleman and an inspiration to all of us. You will be sorely missed my friend.”