Family of 32-year-old Lostock Hall key worker who died of a stroke fund-raising for his funeral
A 32-year-old Lostock Hall key worker who helped stroke victims has died of the same condition.
Dad-of-one Stephen Mason died last Friday at Royal Preston Hospital - just eight days after his 32nd birthday - following a major stroke that led to a severe bleed on his brain.
Now his sister Laura Mason has just five days left to raise at least £4,500 to pay for his funeral.
The 29-year-old said: "It's been a massive shock as it all happened in one day. You don't expect it to happen to someone so young, especially a huge stroke like his. I can't get my head around it."
Laura says that Stephen, who lived with his parents in Brownedge Road and had a two-year-old son, Nathaniel, had seemed completely fine right before suffering a stroke. This life-threatening condition and medical emergency happens when the blood supply to part of the brain is cut off. Common symptoms include slurred speech, your face drooping on one side, and being unable to lift your arms. If you suspect someone is having one, always dial 999, as the quicker the person arrives at a specialist unit, the quicker they will receive appropriate treatment, according to charity Stroke Association.
Laura added: "He was led on the sofa, was completely quiet and looked OK when my mum left the room. When she came back in, she noticed one of his eyes was closed and the other was open. He couldn't communicate. Before that, he'd been absolutely fine. We didn't know anything was going to occur. The next minute, his arm was floppy and he had no strength in it. His eye was also drooping.
"When an ambulance arrived, my mum said to the paramedic, 'I think my son has had a stroke.'
"But it was too far gone."
Stephen was rushed to hospital for emergency surgery, where medics drilled a hole in his brain and removed half of his skull to help stop the swelling.
He was then transferred to critical care but deteriorated due to the pressure in his brain and was put on a life support machine. At 4am, Laura received the devastating call to come to the hospital.
"He was burning hot and his temperature wouldn't go down," she said.
"It was so traumatic seeing him like that. He looked like he'd been in a car accident. His eye was swollen and some of his forehead was missing. It was awful."
His eyes were also unresponsive to light, she adds, and his body began shutting down. That is when doctors told her that her brother would not recover and a priest was called in to read his last rites.
And the pandemic made the moment all the more heart-breaking for the family due to a limit on how many relatives could see Stephen in hospital for fear of spreading coronavirus.
"No-one was allowed to say goodbye to him, except for me, my sister Jessica and my parents. Even his son and former partner [his wife] were turned away because of strict Covid-19 rules," said Laura.
"He passed away while his sister and I were hugging him, and with my parents also at his bedside."
Laura has paid tribute to her brother by saying that he was always trying to help other people.
"Stephen was very kind, caring, and the life and soul of the party. He was so funny and made everyone laugh all the time. He was there for everyone," she said.
Someone who could not agree more with this view is one of his oldest friends, James Shaw, of Leyland, who attended Lostock Hall Community High School with Stephen and has known him for 20-odd years.
James said: "You can ask anyone: he didn't have a harmful bone in his body. He was so generous and loving. He was such a decent person."
Stephen helped to care for vulnerable adults with autism last year before working at Calvert House Voyage Care in Mill Lane, Leyland, where he supported people who had suffered strokes and brain injuries.
He was even studying to be a counsellor before finding his calling in care work and joining the Calvert House team.
"He always wanted to make a difference - that was the sort of person he was," Laura added.
"They missed him when he left [the autism job]. And everyone loved him at Calvert House. They were going to promote him. He'd been working all through the pandemic and did a lot of overtime."
Laura says he was passionate about supporting vulnerable people, and was even given a certificate for spending the night in a tent at Preston North End to raise both awareness of homelessness and money for charity.
"He was always helping others and putting them before himself," she said.
"He would feed the homeless when he went into town, just like my dad, and he gave talks to people who were alcoholics at The Foxton Centre."
His impact on people is clear to see, with loved ones rallying round to raise £3,328 for his funeral in just four days.
Laura added: "The support means everything. It's so kind, isn't it? I'm quite overwhelmed to be fair."
To help her fund-raising mission, please visit https://www.gofundme.com/f/stephen-lee-mason?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=p_cp%20share-sheet&fbclid=IwAR0YoP7ZMzSbin7lbFfp24JOne6FKZLgu_g-xCdh_EVpX1GfPnZ2yyN7C4Q
For more information about strokes, head to https://www.stroke.org.uk/ or call the charity's helpline on 0303 3033 100.