THE family of a much-loved son and brother who tragically died in a house fire say they will sorely miss the smiling “gentle giant”.
Craig Westhorp, 20, was killed in a devastating blaze that tore through his family home in Formby Close, Hartlepool, on Monday morning.
His family have pulled together to pay tribute to the “devoted son” who had dreamt of becoming a fireman, including his seven-year-old sister, Sharne Westhorp, who has drawn a heartbreaking picture in memory of her brother.
A touching, written statement by the family said: “Craig was known as a big gentle giant, his smile would light up the room. He would do anything for anyone and was a well loved lad by all in such a short life. He lived it to the full.
“We would just like to say thank you to all friends, neighbours and everyone else for their kind words and tributes to our wonderful son.
“We cannot believe how kind so many people have been, bringing us clothing and floral tributes with kind words. It just shows how much he is loved.”
It added: “The Lord only sent you to us for such a short time, but the pleasure of having you as a son will last a lifetime.
“They stole you away far too soon and the pain is too much to bear, but our memories of you will carry us through until we can be there with you.”
The statement was released by relatives including parents Paula Sutherland and Mark Westhorp and step-parents Andrew Sutherland and Rita Westhorp.
His brothers Reece and Owen and sister Sharne added: “The best big brother anyone could ever have. Our family will never be the same without you. Sleep tight xxx.”
Craig had been a pupil at St John Vianney School before moving on to English Martyrs School.
He is said to have had various jobs, had trained as an electrician and was hoping to become a fireman.
One of the biggest loves of his life is said to have been helping his granddad run a country and western festival.
A message from his grandparents added: “You were a shining light to me and granda. We need your strength my lad to get us through this.
“We love you son, you will always be our number one grandson. Goodnight, God bless Craig.”
Aunty Leesa and Uncle Shaun added: “We were all privileged to have you in our lives. I just wish we could have kept you longer. You touched the hearts of everyone you met.
“Words cannot express how much you meant to us all, how caring and supportive you were. Nothing was a trouble to you, you would do anything for anyone, you put everyone first before yourself.”
Craig had been at home with 17-year-old Reece and his step-dad Andrew when the fire broke out at around 5am.
Reece and Andrew managed to escape, but Craig did not and could not be rescued by the fire brigade and police despite their quick reaction.
Flowers have since been laid outside the house while hundreds of tributes have been made online.
An investigation has been launched into the cause of the blaze.