A devoted dad was planning to renew his wedding vows with his childhood sweetheart when he was killed in a brutal attack in a back lane.
David Walsh, known as Boff to friends and family, and wife Trisha had also been looking forward to a dream holiday in the Caribbean in January.
The 45-year-old father of four and grandfather-of-four from Fuller Street, in Hendon, died after suffering substantial injuries in the back lane of nearby Canon Cockin Street on Friday night.
Shortly before his death, the 6ft 3in railway worker – who was only home for the weekend after a change in shifts in the run- up to Christmas–- went to the aid of his youngest son David, 25, with eldest boy Kyle, 28, when they heard he was in trouble and arrived to find him unconscious on the ground.
David Jnr was left with a fractured jaw and is now recovering at home.
Three men have appeared in court having been charged with David Snr’s murder.
Today, his family paid warm tribute to the “gentle giant” devoted to his family, who has left a community stunned by his tragic death, with cards and flowers flooding in as people pay tribute.
His brother Billy, 54, said: “He was a diamond.
“He was one of the nicest people you could ever meet, he would have given you his last penny.
“He was a gentleman, a fun-loving giant. He was just a true gentleman.
“It’s clearly knocked the community, and we all grew up around here.
“He was one of the lads – one of the likely lads.
“He loved going out for a drink, he loved holding barbecues and going on holiday, he would go three, four, five times a year.
“He was never apart from his wife, except from when he was at work.”
Billy’s wife Kath, 57, added: “He and Trisha were together like superglue.
“She was like his shadow and they were a funny couple.
“She will never get over this.
“He was fun-loving, he didn’t have a bad bone in his body.
“He was a family man, he was devoted to them.”
Billy and Kath paid tribute to David on behalf of his relations, with others too upset to speak.
David, who went to Valley Road Primary and Southmoor School, where he met Trisha, also 45, was also dad to Aaron, 26, and daughter Casey, 23, and a grandad to Kyle’s children Kyle, 10, Cavan, eight, and Canis, six, as well as David’s daughter Ellie, seven.
He also leaves sister Maureen, 56, and brother Anthony, 48, sister-in-law Michelle Worgan, 44, and was also a loving uncle to Anthony’s children Lyndsay, 23, and Anthony, 28.
He was much loved by Claire Loughlin, 28, son Kyle’s partner and his son’s girlfriends.
David was known for hosting barbecues, which would see neighbours join in the gatherings held in his back yard, as well as enjoying cooking for others.
He gained his nickname after shaving his hair off and was known for playing pranks on his friends and family.
He and Trisha enjoyed travelling, often with friends Billy Boy and Lisa Tyrell, with Barbados, Mexico, Goa and Jamaica among the places they had holidayed in recent years.
Leanne Wright, 33, who grew up with the family, said: “It’s devastated me.
“We’re heartbroken, I can’t believe he’s gone, I will never get over it.”
Funeral details are yet to be confirmed.