The Lancashire community has been so touched by the legacy of inspirational campaigner Ben Ashworth, they have contributed thousands to help his wife pay for his celebration service.
Just days after the Go Fund Me page was launched, kind-hearted people have donated more than £3,500 to help Louise Ashworth, of Preston, cover costs for the beautiful ceremony held at Blackburn Cathedral earlier this month.
Close family friend Leila Burns, 32, of Preston, said: “Ben, Louise and the community has raised so much for the charities - an incredible achievement of £45,000.
“Ben’s work was about raising awareness, but also about being practical and raising money that could benefit the lives of other people diagnosed with cancer.
“But I would like to see us raise some funds for Louise and their three girls, who have given so much.
“When Louise told me she would be holding a memorial service at Blackburn Cathedral, I was blown away.
“What a gift and a blessing to us all who have also known and loved Ben - it was a place where we could mourn him, and celebrate him, and come together.
“For his wife to think of us at that time was just so unbelievably kind.
“To acknowledge that so many of us would want to remember him and to want to honour him and all of us by making a service that we could all attend is just so selfless and beautiful.
“It was a huge thing to organise and make it right and even with all the support and discounts, it has cost a lot.
“Because Louise anticipated such a large turnout, of around 700 people, it was clear that there would need to be a professional audio-visual set up so that everybody attending would be able to follow the service. This came to quite a large bill, even with a hefty discount.
“When Louise told me how much it was I was a little shocked and that she was happy to foot the bill for us, was just something else.
“She told me: ‘I am willing and happy to do this because even though people say Ben was an inspiration and that he was important to them, I know he took inspiration from other people and they were equally important to him.’
“Louise did this for us, and I would love us all to do this for her.”
Leila, who has known Ben for more than 10 years, is hoping to raise £5,000 to cover the cost of the service.
She added: “If we can raise a little bit more than that, I would love us all to thank her by giving her a little bit extra so that Louise and the girls can go on holiday together to have some special time.
“I am so encouraged by the huge outpouring of love for Ben and his beautiful family.
“Louise was taken aback when I mentioned this fund to her, but she has given us her blessing.”
Ben, 38, died after a five-year cancer battle on July 2.
He was told he only had months to live but went on to run marathons, including four ultras, to raise money for charity and combat the stigma of bowel cancer.
To make a donation visit https://www.gofundme.com/ben-ashworth-memorial-fund
For a story on Ben's celebration service click here /moving-moments-and-touching-tributes-as-hundreds-of-family-and-friends-attend-ben-ashworth-s-celebration-service-1-8651971
For other stories on Ben's legacy click here /ben-ashworth-made-friend-of-the-city-by-preston-council-1-8628752 and /tributes-to-inspirational-runner-ben-1-8627438 and /petition-to-rename-part-of-guild-wheel-ben-ashworth-way-nears-1-500-signatures-1-8627970