Grieving wife pays tribute to her much-loved Northumberland husband who battled cystic fibrosis

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A fund-raising tribute to a much-loved Northumberland man who had cystic fibrosis has raised nearly £1,500.

Gary Nicholson, 52, from Longhoughton, passed away at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle on April 29 with his wife, Mandy, by his side.

Despite her grief, she has paid tribute to a ‘wonderful husband’ and set out to raise as much as possible for Ward 38 where he was treated.

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“To say I am devastated is an understatement, but I am also grateful for seven wonderful years together,” she wrote on the JustGiving page. “He was the biggest light in my life other than my children, who he loved like his own.

Mandy and Gary Nicholson.Mandy and Gary Nicholson.
Mandy and Gary Nicholson. | Other 3rd Party

“I want to thank the wonderful nurses and doctors at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle, Ward 38 for their love and care for Gary. They were nothing but amazing, so caring, and have really looked after us both.

“Showing my appreciation by raising money for our #RealLifeHeroes is my way of giving back and if you could find it in your heart to donate; no matter how small, it will be received with gratitude. They deserve this.

“Losing someone is never easy. Losing someone like Gary – exceptionally difficult and heartbreaking. He was my world and always will be.

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“Gary and I lived every moment. I have no regrets, he was the love of my life and taught me so much. Being able to be with him in his final hours has been the biggest gift to me and I am so grateful to Ward 38 for making Gary comfortable and being there to offer me love and support when I needed it.

“When Gary said the words 'Goodnight sweetheart' I knew he was ready. It was one of those moments that will sit in my heart forever, just two simple words. He really loved me and wanted me to know. I spent the next 40 minutes telling him he could go and how much I loved him. It feels frozen in time, but precious.

“To everyone on Ward 38 I will never forget your love and support and for helping me fulfil my wish to be my beloved's side in his final hours.”

Mandy, an artist, author and creative coach to female entrepreneurs, Gary at a party in Alnwick seven years ago.

However, they both knew it would not be forever.

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“When I met Gary he told me that he had a life limiting condition as he was born with cystic fibrosis and had a double lung transplant so he didn't know how long he had,” said Mandy.

But she said: “We were graced with seven amazing years.”

He passed away after a month in hospital with liver failure.

Mandy said: “Last year he spent a month in the Freeman with a chest infection and we nearly lost him twice, but he came out with kidney failure, too weak for a transplant and had to go on dialysis in Alnwick.

“So, when his liver started to show signs of failure the doctors just ran out of options. It has been devastating, but also such a gift that we had this amazing time. He was one of the longest surviving CF transplant patients at the Freeman at 16 years post transplant on May 15.”

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His brother, Stuart, also had cystic fibrosis and was just 30 when he passed away.

The family has been unable to mark Gary’s death in the way they would have preferred due to coronavirus restrictions but see this tribute as a fitting way of remembering him.

Mandy said: “Gary was really well loved with hundreds of friends and helped everyone whenever they needed it. He was a shining light and nobody had a bad word to say about him.

“He loved every day because he never knew which would be his last. He encouraged everyone around him to life their best life and that has been the biggest lesson I have learnt.

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“He would not want me moping around which is why I set up the fundraising campaign.

“The Freeman was like his second home, and the medical staff are just awesome, so I started a Just Giving page to raise money for Ward 38, the Institute of Transplantation in Gary's name and it was at £1,000 in three hours.

She admitted: “It’s been an emotional process because it’s been a very difficult time but the response so far has been wonderful.”

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