Friends and family pay tribute as former Seaham Red Star striker and Nissan worker dies following cancer battle

‘He was genuinely one of the nicest lads you will ever meet’ – friends and family pay tribute to popular Seaham dad who died aged 53.

By Poppy Kennedy
Wednesday, 10th March 2021, 7:00 am
Chris pictured with son Ben, dad Raymond Kirby and partner Paula Dawson
Chris pictured with son Ben, dad Raymond Kirby and partner Paula Dawson

Much-loved Chris Kirby, who has been described as a ‘wonderful man inside and out’, died following a battle with metastatic cancer after he was first diagnosed in 2019.

A talented local footballer, Chris made 206 appearances for Seaham Red Star during his younger years scoring 52 goals including four hattricks.

Having a passion for football from the age of eight, Chris played for a number of Northern Football League clubs over the years and was a dedicated and loyal Sunderland fan.

Chris at Seaham Red Star

Friends and family as well as the Seaham community have paid tribute to the ‘genuine and kind’ 53-year-old, who worked on the production line at Nissan for more than a decade.

Chris, a loyal season ticket holder at the Stadium of Light, was tragically diagnosed with metastatic cancer in 2019 and underwent numerous rounds of treatment but sadly passed away on March 5 – leaving behind parents Raymond and Patricia Kirby, 20-year-old son Ben Kirby, partner Paula Dawson and brother Paul and sister-in-law Karen Kirby.

His heartbroken family said Chris ‘enjoyed life so much’ especially socialising and going to work. He always was playing music and was a big Stone Roses fan.

Chris met partner Paula seven years ago at Marlborough Club and, as Chris didn’t have a mobile on him he wrote her number down, and the pair were inseparable ever since.

Chris with son Ben, dad Raymond and brother Paul.

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Friend of more than 40 years, Ian Gleghorn said: "He was quite a quiet fella. He was very generous and really well-known and well-liked in the Seaham area and in the Northern Football League community.

"He was a striker, a very good striker. He could play midfield too but if you were managing you put him in as a striker.

"He always loved football and he played almost all his life.

Ben with Chris's mum Patricia

"Chris was a very good local footballer, he could have gone further but it never happened for him. He was a a proper Sunderland supporter, like the group of us, he never gave up and kept the faith for our sins.”

The pair first met whilst playing against each other but swiftly became friends and played alongside each other for various clubs.

"He never missed a match and would go to away games as much as he could,” said Ian, 56.

"He was genuinely one of the nicest lads you will ever meet. He was really loyal and once you had him as a friend he’d always be there for you.

Chris with partner Paula Dawson

"He was a popular, just gorgeous lad to knock around with - no one had a bad word to say about him.

"He had time for everyone and everyone had time for him.”

A Go Fund Me page with funds going towards a memorial plaque hopefully at Seaham Red Star. So far more than £400 has been donated and any additional funds will go to Help for Heroes. To donate click here.

Chris’s funeral will take place at St Cuthbert Church in Seaham on Thursday, March 11, and the procession will drive by the sea front at roughly 1pm where family and friends, unable to attend the funeral because of Covid restrictions, can pay their respects.

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Chris with son Ben and father Raymond
Chris (left) with partner Paula Dawson, her sister and brother-in-law Natalie and Grant (middle), and Paula's daughter Niamh