Ben Ashworth has lost his brave battle for life, five years after being diagnosed, but his determination to ensure a positive, lasting legacy proved an inspiration to so many.
Within hours of his wife Louise announcing his passing, tributes to the dad-of-Skye, Isobel and Heidi were into the thousands and continue to flood in.
Among them was one from Steve Marsden, which said: “There are no words really that can adequately express how I and all of us felt and feel about Ben. His strength, his humour, his wit his faith and his humanity. His soul was blessed and those who were privileged enough to have known him no matter how long or fleeting that may have been we are all much better human beings for it.”
Roxanne Crabtree added: “Ben was a pleasure to see when he came in for his workouts and always had a beaming smile on his face. It was infectious. May you rest in peace Ben.”
Kerry Metcalf said in tribute: “I have followed Ben since day one. What a truly amazing, inspirational man. He truly did tackle cancer and his life head on. This guy will not be forgotten.”
Peter Cobb said: “A true inspiration, a man of positivity and faith. He truly fought the good fight against a terrible disease.”
Fiona Salt wrote: “You continue to be an inspiration - your bravery and dignity was awe inspiring. Your generous spirit will be remembered by your friends and family and shown in your children.”
Ben was diagnosed with the disease in 2012 and told he only had months to live.
After setting a target of six marathons in six months in 2014, he ended up running more than 20, raising thousands of pounds via the Ben’s Bowel Movements charity site.
Last Christmastime, more than 100 runners added to the fund when they took part in the Cheeky Santa Dash in Avenham Park.
Earlier in the year, he had spent several weeks in hospital after a new tumour was found on his liver. He had to undergo an 11-hour operation and was in intensive care for five weeks, but was delighted at the success of the event, at which racers not only had the option of wearing the traditional Santa suit but also a pair of special ‘bum’ shorts.
Ben said at the event: “If through this we can stop even one family going through what we have it will have been worth it. It’s good that people are willing to do something daft.
“If you’re willing to feel daft running around in these shorts then you might be more willing to go to see your doctor when you feel daft about your symptoms.”
During Ben’s fund-raising campaign, Mark Flannagan, chief executive of the charity Beating Bowel Cancer, said: “He is an incredible human being and an inspiration to everyone who knows him.”