A GRIEVING bride has spoken of the shock of losing her husband-to-be after he fell ill just days before what was to be the happiest day of her life.
Inseparable couple Alison Dunn and Kev Franciosi were due to marry two weeks ago today in a ceremony at Sunderland Civic Centre.
But that was cruelly snatched away from them as Kev, from Ashbrooke, suddenly contracted septicaemia.
Staff at Sunderland Royal Hospital battled for several days to save the ‘gentle giant’, but life-support was turned off on Wednesday and he died with Alison by his side.
On the day they were due to marry – Alison’s 34th birthday – she bravely donned the wedding dress Kev never got to see her wear, and had her hair and make-up done.
A photograph will poignantly be placed inside Kev’s coffin so that he has an image of his bride with him always.
Kev, 47, ran the Fulwell Ink tattoo shop and his popularity has been reflected in the amount of flowers and tributes left outside his Sea Road business.
Alison today paid tribute to Kev, a dad of four, and grandad of three.
“He loved his job, he lived for that shop,” she told the Echo.
“He would stand smoking on the corner. People know it as ‘Kev’s Corner’. Everyone loved him. He was a character, a joker. He had a heart of gold. Nothing was too much for him. He would help anybody.”
Alison, who is mum to Ellie, 12, and 14-year-old Shane, said: “I’ve done nothing but cry. I should have been getting married last week. It was my birthday. I’m heartbroken.
“He paid for everything but I wouldn’t let him see the dress until the day, but he never did get to see the dress.
“The hospital gave me a handprint of Kev and I held it in my hand in the photograph. The picture will be placed with Kev in his coffin, it’s going to be with him.”
Close friend Nicola Patterson, 35, said: “I used to love going to the shop every morning for a cuppa. He was a good friend.
“When my grandson died, he made a plaque for his grave. It took him months to make. I will always remember him and he will always be in my heart.”
Friend and fellow tattooist Mark Glover, 33, added: “He was a gentle giant. I used to see him every Saturday. He was like a member of the family. He was the type of person who would do anything for anybody and he would give everybody the benefit of the doubt.”
Mr Franciosi’s family are organising the funeral, but a date has not yet been set.