A Sunderland family has paid an emotional tribute to a much-loved lad they describe as being ‘one in a million.’
Michael Doda, 24, of Town End Farm, died suddenly while out walking with his beloved dog Simba on January 26.
His two-year-old American Akita stayed by his side until help arrived after Michael was found in East Boldon by a passer-by.
Now his mum Michelle Doda has paid tribute to her beautiful son, calling him a man with a ‘heart of gold.’
“From day one he always brought joy to everyone,” she said.
“He was just a sweet boy, who was so respectful to everyone.
“He was always smiling - he was beautiful inside and out.
“He had a heart of gold and always wanted to take care of us all.”
Michael, who lived in Bognor Street, was a former student electrician at Hylton College and Port of Tyne driver. He leaves four sisters - Naomi Doda, 37, Gemma Carr, 33, Natalie Doda, 32, Vanessa Doda, 27 - and girlfriend Emily Christie, 19.
He was also cousin to Sarah Mills, 35, and an uncle of four to Callum Burlinson, Ebony Carr, Elisse Carr and Autumn Ingram.
A keen sportsman and boxer, Michael was a member of Washington Boxing club and also enjoyed jiu jitsu.
He even met his girlfriend Emily while at Pure Gym in Roker, and the pair had been together for three years.
Paying tribute, she said: “I couldn’t have asked for a more loving and caring boyfriend, he always made me feel so special.”
A talented young man, Michael also has a passion for music and art and was known for his impressive drawing skills and the ability to sing songs he had written and also play guitar.
Mum Michelle added: “He loved everybody and he loved his dog Simba, who is so loyal to him.
“I wish every mother could be blessed with a son like him.
“He was one in a million, a gift from God.
“He was a lovely boy and I will miss him until the day I die.”
Sister Naomi said he was quite an entrepreneur alongside his work at Port of Tyne, and had looked into setting up a smoothie business and also designed clothing.
She added: “He touched so many people, as he was all about love.
“He loved everybody.”
Michael’s nana Rita Davidson added: “He was just a lovely lad.
“He was so caring and had a heart of gold.”
The family wished to thank Northumbria Police and local resident Paul Phillips for their assistance.
Michael’s funeral, organised by Tony Clarke Funeral Directors, will be held on Thursday, February 9, at 11am at Sunderland Crematorium followed by a wake at the Town End Farm Working Mens Club on Bexhill Road, Sunderland.
To help cover for the cost of the funeral, a fundraising page has been set up.
To donate, visit: https://www.gofundme.com/raise-money-for-michael-funeral