‘Our superhero’ – family’s tribute to Sunderland dad who saved five lives

Barry Chessell, 32, with children Leah, now nine, and Callum, now six.
Barry Chessell, 32, with children Leah, now nine, and Callum, now six.
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A dad who died suddenly has become a “superhero” after his family followed through with his wishes to become an organ donor.

Barry Chessell collapsed at his Plains Farm home half an hour after finishing his fork lift truck driving shift with Vantec at the Nissan factory.

Barry Chessell, who has died aged 32, pictured with wife Gemma, 30, and children Leah, nine, and Callum, six, on Christmas Day.

Barry Chessell, who has died aged 32, pictured with wife Gemma, 30, and children Leah, nine, and Callum, six, on Christmas Day.

His wife of seven years Gemma tried to save him using CPR after she dialled 999. He was taken to Sunderland Royal, but after tests and scans, doctors gave her the devastating news the 32-year-old had suffered a brain haemorrhage and would not regain consciousness.

As he had signed up to the organ donor register, medics asked if his body could be used to help others –now five people have been saved thanks to his heart, liver, lungs and both his kidneys.

Gemma, 30, who works as a supervisor for a home care company, had to make the tough choice to donate Barry’s organs as he was kept alive by machines.

She said: “At first I didn’t want to, I wanted them to leave him alone, but then I knew it was his wish to do it.

I’ve told the kids to think of him as a superhero for saving the lives of others.

Father-in-law Dave Harvey

“There are pieces of him living in other people.

“It is a discussion people should have and if that’s what they want to do, it can help a lot of people.

“He was amazing with the kids.

“I just adored him, he was my soulmate, he was my everything.

Gemma Chessell with her "soulmate" Barry.

Gemma Chessell with her "soulmate" Barry.

“His friends from work went to visit him in hospital and on Facebook they’ve called him a diamond geezer because he was from the south.

“They’ve said he couldn’t do enough for everybody and was a family man, which he was.

“He was really well thought of at work.”

Barry, who was known as Eyeball after a nickname given to him by his dad when he was born with one eye open, moved to Sunderland from the Isle of Sheppey to be with Gemma when they got together 11 years ago.

Barry Chessell died recently from a brain haemorrhage pictured with daughter Leah aged 4 months (now aged 9 years).

Barry Chessell died recently from a brain haemorrhage pictured with daughter Leah aged 4 months (now aged 9 years).

He joined Vantec a year ago after spending six years bringing up the couple’s children, Leah, nine, and Callum, six.

The Land Rover enthusiast was a member of the North East Rover Owners, with one of the club member’s vehicles to take him to his funeral on Monday and others to set up a convoy from his home to Sunderland Crematorium.

His in-laws Dave and Carol Harvey, both 54, have also paid tribute to Barry.

Dave said: “I’ve told the kids to think of him as a superhero for saving the lives of others.

“Barry was great. I’m registered blind and I would ring up and ask him to come round and help with the garden and I used to say I was his supervisor.

“He doted on Gemma and the kids, he was a great lad.

Barry Chessell (right) died recently from a brain haemorrhage pictured with wife Gemma.

Barry Chessell (right) died recently from a brain haemorrhage pictured with wife Gemma.

“Everyone is devastated.”

Barry, who fell ill on Friday, also leaves parents Barry and Lin, three brothers and nine nieces and nephews.

Mourners at his funeral, which has been organised by Tony Clarke Funeral Directors, have been asked to wear bright clothing and a collection will be held for Macmillan, with the catering donated by Creative Catering NE.

The service will be held at 2pm.

Barry Chessell, who has died at the age of 32.

Barry Chessell, who has died at the age of 32.