A mum has told how she has been overwhelmed by the support her family has received after her 35-year-old son died suddenly from a brain haemorrhage.
James Skipper, of Aspden Street, Bamber Bridge, was found dead at home by brother Daniel, after the family grew concerned he wasn’t answering his phone.
The popular charity worker had complained of suffering from a headache the night before at a pool match.
His mum, Linda Mercer, 66, said: “It’s come completely out of the blue, he hadn’t been ill. It hasn’t sunk in yet.”
Linda said the family had been bowled over by how many people have shared their condolences and fond memories of James.
She said: “People have been coming up to us, sharing confidences of how James helped them at tough times, and it’s surprised us.
“He did a lot more than any of us realised, but with no fanfare or fuss.”
James’ humanist funeral was held at Much Hoole Woodland Burial Ground, with music including Bob Dylan’s Everybody Must Get Stoned, Bob Marley’s One Love, and I’ve Had the Time of My Life from Dirty Dancing. Mourners were asked to wear bright clothing, with trainers as a must, to reflect James’ “worst fashion sense ever.”
Linda said: “We had to explain the last song to people. James’s taste was diverse - he listened to music as dark as The Doors, but also loved the Eurovision Song Contest.
“It was the same with movies. He watched the Rocky films I don’t know how many times, but his favourite was Dirty Dancing.”
The day after James’s funeral, Bamber Bridge FC also held a one-minute applause before kicking off their match in memory of James.
James grew up in Bamber Bridge and attended St Leonard’s Primary School and then Worden High School in Leyland, where he was an A-grade student and gained MENSA accreditation.
At high school, he became friends with a severely disabled boy who used a wheelchair, who would become a lifelong friend.
Linda said: “James was always there to help Jon Paul and they would do everything together, nothing held them back.
“They went to Magaluf, Vegas and Amsterdam together, and to lots of concerts. The two of them really saw the world and lived life to the full.”
At the age of 16 James joined Age Concern on their YTS scheme, and stayed there, working his way up to facilities manager.
Linda added: “He loved his job and did a lot in his own time, after work and at weekends.
“He didn’t just spend his time behind a desk, he liked getting out and meeting the older people, and helping out at open days with the fire service.”
Tributes have poured in from James’s work colleagues, and the family have been told they are setting up a James Skipper annual award, for staff who go beyond the call of duty.
Aside from supporting Manchester United, snooker and pool were James’ main interests, and he spent many nights playing at Bamber Bridge Conservative Club in Cranbourne Street, which his family dubbed “his second home”.
Linda said: “There was a big social side of his life. He had to have a passport to get of of Brig.”
He was captain of one of the club’s pool teams, and described as “a completely dependable and talented player” by league boss Geoff Yates.
He also threw himself into charity work, and even performed at the club’s Stars In Your Eyes contest to raise cash for good causes.
In death, his family hope money can be raised in his memory for Macmillan Cancer Support, a charity close to James’ heart following the death of his father Charlie from cancer last year.
Daniel has set up a Just Giving account, which raised £550 in a matter of days.
James leaves mum Linda, stepdad Tony, brothers Simon, Stephen and Daniel, sister Katie and dog Dexter.
To donate in his memory, visit: www.justigiving.com/James-Skipper