Tributes to Sunderland ‘gentle giant’ who died aged just 25

Steven Lynn
Steven Lynn
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Family and friends have paid tribute to a ‘gentle giant’ who passed away aged just 25.

Steve Lynn fell ill on Christmas Day and died last week after contracting flu.

He was so funny and so quick-witted. He had an answer for everything and could come back at you like that.

Kelly Welford

The former Southmoor pupil was a bricklayer and followed dad, also Steve, into the family firm SJL Brickwork.

“He had been with the firm for about eight years and would become my number two,” said Steve Snr.

“The idea was that I would retire to a nice beach and he would take it all over.”

Six-foot, seven-inch Steve, who lived in Ryhope, was admitted to hospital after falling ill: “He had pneumonia and that damaged his heart. Then he got Influenza B and he passed away on January 17,” said mum Kelly Welford.

“He came home for three days but he was very poorly and his dad took him back in.”

The family is now coming to terms with what has happened to a young man who had always been the picture of health.

“It was very unexpected,” said Steve.

“We knew it was serious when they said it had damaged his heart but we always thought he would pull through and would be out by now.

“He was a big strong lad. He was a gentle giant - all his friends said so.”

Their overwhelming memories are of a loving son who was always quick with a joke.

“He was hilarious - everyone knew he was hilarious,” said Kelly.

“He was so funny and so quick-witted. He had an answer for everything and could come back at you like that.

“He never just said ‘Mum’ the once. He used to stand in the doorway and say ‘Mum, Mum, Mum...’ because he knew it made me mad.

“Because I am just five foot, he used to Sellotape my board money to the ceiling.”

Steve’s wicked sense of humour was apparent from a young age.

“When he was about three, he was in the front garden while I was working in the house and one of the neighbours asked ‘Is your mum in?’,” recalled Kelly.

“He replied, ‘No, she’s gone on a baccy run.’.”

When 16-year-old sister Zoe was eight, she had a massive crush on Justin Beiber: “She had posters all over the wall,” said Kelly

“She went to a party and when she got back, Steve had drawn moustaches on all of them while she was out.

“Another time she was out with friends and some boys. Steve was shouting across the road ‘Hey, that’s my baby sister’.”

School friend Jordan Holling recalled how Steve came by his unusual nickname - Betsy.

“He was reading a book by author Betsy Byers and the name just stuck, from there” he said.

“He even used to get called that by the teachers.”

Steve’s cousin Bryan Ayre said: “He would do anything for anyone. I used to live four doors along. I had a girlfriend, we had just had a little baby and we were living with my mum.

“Steve used to offer to clean his flat up and let us use it so we could have some family time with the baby.

“He used to think about me all the time.”

The offer to use Steve’s flat would have been tempered by his somewhat personal interior decorating tastes, however,“He painted all the slats of his bedroom blinds different colours and had different coloured doors in the flat,” said Bryan.

“He was a colourful character in more ways than one.”

Kelly remembers her son’s lifelong love of colour: “Steve loved colour. I took him in a colouring book in the hospital and he was sitting there, doing his colouring,” she said.

As well as his mum, dad and Zoe, Steve is survived by stepdad Craig Welford, stepmum Lynsay Short, sisters Ruby, 12, and eight-year-old Lucie, and brother Daniel, 13.

A non-religious funeral service will be held at 9am on Wednesday, January 31, at Sunderland Crematorium, followed by a gathering for family and friends at the Alexandra in Grangetown.

The family will also mark Steve’s birthday next month with a walk around the lake at Gilly Law.

“He wanted to do a walk around the lakeside when he came home,” said Kelly.

“It’s the one way we can celebrate his birthday.”

Steve’s birthday is February 19, but that falls on a Monday, so in order to ensure as many people as possible can take part, the walk will set off from the North Moor Lane end of the lake at 2pm on Sunday, February 18.

“We did it for my uncle and Steve loved it, he loved the idea,” said Kelly.

“I think he would love that.”