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‘Heartbroken’ family and friends pay tribute to popular 31-year-old

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A young dad died from cancer hours after being married in his hospital bed.

Ian Tong, of Bamber Bridge, near Preston, married fiancée Gemma in the early hours of Monday morning, and passed away just four hours later.

The father-of-two, who was known as Tongy, was diagnosed with anaplastic lymphoma in March this year after months of tests, following what was thought to be a virus.

For the last six weeks, the popular 31-year-old was at Blackpool Victoria Hospital, where he underwent chemotherapy, and despite being told the courses hadn’t worked, he was due to receive a trial drug.

But his condition deteriorated and in the early hours of Monday morning, staff at the hospital rushed out to get flowers and decorations so that Ian and Gemma could wed.

Today, 28-year-old Gemma, said the pair had an “unconditional love” and said Ian was her “right-hand man”.

Tributes have poured in to Ian, who also leaves sons Jayden, three and Jamie, one. Brother Brian, 39, of Farington Moss, Leyland, said the family was “heartbroken”. He added: “Ian was amazing, very popular and always there for you.

“If you wanted him to do something he was always there. He was a very happy person, joking and smiling. He was the one who always made everyone smile.

“He was everybody’s best friend. He had been godparents to most of his friends’ and family’s children. He had been best man at his mates’ weddings.

“That was the person he was, he wanted to be there for you. He was everyone’s buddy, they always wanted him there. When he was in hospital, people were always asking how he was.”

Brian said the hospital had been “brilliant” at helping arrange the wedding.

He said: “It was obvious he was in his last hours. They got the minister in from the church, got a registrar in. The staff ran out to a garage and got flowers and a card.

“A friend had to come home to get their passports. The hospital put sheets out and flowers, they did an amazing job.

“He was looking at the camera and smiling. He was complete. He was hanging on for the end.”

Ian worked as a sign and street lighting contractor and also had a passion for cars, having previously worked in car sales.

He attended Clayton Brook Primary School before going to St Michael’s CE High School in Chorley.

The Manchester United fan had been doing work at his new house in Bamber Bridge in November last year when he became ill with a suspected virus, before being diagnosed with cancer in March.

Brian, who owns Leyland Motor Centre, said: “They said the cancer was treatable, that although it was a fast-growing type it should react to the treatment.

“We were all full of hope and light at the beginning and since then, until last Friday when he got told the second intense stage of chemo hadn’t worked. They put a put a stent in to increase the blood flow. From then he was suppose to be on the mend, he was down for this trial chemotherapy drug.

“On Saturday night he had a funny turn for the worse. He rapidly went downhill at the weekend.”

On Sunday, Brian and a number of friends and relatives took part in the Manchester to Blackpool bike ride in aid of the Rosemere Cancer Foundation.

“After the ride me and my three cousins went to see him and tell him how we’d done. I gave him the shirt I had ridden in. He said he was happy to see us,” Brian said.

By Sunday night, doctors had told the family to prepare for the worse.

And with the help of hospital staff Ian and Gemma, who had been engaged 18 months, married at 3.30am on Monday. Ian died at 7.45am.

Brian said his parents Anne and Brian, who live in Clayton Brook, where the Ian was raised are “heartbroken”.

He said: “They are devastated, they have lost their baby. He had not long since left home.

“My mum and dad have been there for him every day. He never got better, there was no good news coming out of it.

“He was fed up near the end.

“He was a people person. He didn’t like being in hospital on his own.”

In the days since Ian’s death, hundreds of tributes have been posted on social media and at Bamber Bridge FC’s game on Tuesday there was a one minute round of applause.

Brian said: “It is heartwarming as well as it is upsetting.

“Everybody has their own little memories of him. Not one of them is a bad story. He loved Smokey and the Bandit, he knew the whole film. He played football, six-a-side, at Clayton Brook. They dominated the leagues.”

Ian’s funeral will be held on Wednesday July 23 at 12.30pm at St John’s Church in Whittle-Le-Woods. He will be laid to rest at Chorley Cemetery.

People are invited to celebrate his life and his wedding at Dante’s at The Half Way House in Clayton-le-Woods.

 

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