DEVOTED Stephen Carruthers has launched a fund-raising drive to buy a headstone for his brother’s grave.
The 31-year-old started the online appeal to raise £1,100 to have a headstone put in place at his brother Paul’s grave, in time for the first anniversary of his death next month.
Paul, 32, from Ryhope, died after a short battle with meningitis, leaving parents, Ian, 53, and Sue, 57, devastated, along with Stephen, a star of the hit Channel 4 show The Undateables.
Stephen said Paul’s death was a huge blow for the family, especially Ian and Sue, who lost their 21-year-old son, Mark, 13 years ago and their daughter, Amanda, 24, the following year, both dying due to sleep apnoea.
Like his siblings, Paul, a huge Sunderland AFC fan, had Crouzon syndrome, where the skull grows up instead of out, putting pressure on the brain.
Paul, who also had a number of other disabilities including a curved spine and epilepsy, wanted to be an organ donor and his family carried out his wishes, saving the lives of six people waiting for transplants.
Stephen, of Burdon Crescent, said: “It costs a lot to buy a headstone and with finances the way they are at the minute, it is not easy. I wanted to ease the pressure on my parents a bit because it is coming up to the first anniversary and it is still very raw. It is still difficult to go and visit his grave. It is hard for me, but obviously it is worse for my parents to have lost three children. I wanted to do something nice for them.”
Stephen said he has been overwhelmed by the generosity of people who, touched by the story of the Carruthers family’s heartache, have already made a donation to the appeal and the total stands at £735.
He said: “The response has been fantastic, people have been so generous. It would be really lovely to have the headstone in place in time for the anniversary of Paul’s death.”
Anyone who would like to make a donation can visit Stephen’s fund-raising page at http://www.gofundme.com/6jfmvc.