Devastated pals are hoping to raise thousands of pounds in memory of a popular St John Ambulance volunteer after his tragic death.
Dean Hill, 24, was found in his bed on Christmas Eve by devastated dad Colin, 58, just hours after returning to the family home after a stay in hospital.
The budding paramedic had endured two separate stints in hospital after being diagnosed with myocarditis, the symptoms of which started with a cough.
Dean suffered blood clots, but after returning to his home in Spout Lane, Concord, it appeared he was well on the road to recovery.
Parents Colin and Sheena, 54, were left crushed at the discovery of Dean’s body the following morning.
Following his death, friends are trying to support his family by raising money towards a headstone for him.
A target of £4,000 has been set and a Just Giving page created so that donations can be made.
Jessica Littlefair, 24, of Washington, is calling on anyone who knew Dean to contribute to the fund.
“Dean was just a lovely lad and since his death everyone has been singing his praises,” she said.
“People only have good things to say about him.
“And he did so much for the St John’s Ambulance for so long.
“What’s happened is horrible for his family, especially with him passing away before Christmas, and now people just want to help in any way that they can.”
Dean, who was proudly pictured with several stars of the screen at events in recent years, was an IT worker for Hewlett Packard Enterprise, but dreamed of a career as a paramedic and was looking into university courses which would help him achieve his ambition.
His dream grew from his time with St John Ambulance, which put on a procession from Dean’s home to Our Blessed Lady Immaculate, in Village Lane, Washington, where his funeral took place.
Some of Dean’s former colleagues formed a guard of honour as his coffin was carried into the church ahead of the service.
Former St Joseph’s RC Primary School and St Robert of Newminster Catholic School pupil Dean worked at events such as the London Marathon, Great North Run and Premier League football matches, helping members of the public by providing medical assistance when needed.
To donate to the appeal in Dean’s memory go to www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/Dean-Hill.