TOUCHING tributes have been paid to a much-loved college lecturer who lost his courageous fight with cancer aged 43.
Bob Baxter, a lecturer at Hartlepool College of Further Education, where he worked for more than 20 years, died on Thursday after a five-year fight with melanoma, a rare and serious type of cancer which begins in the skin and can spread to other organs.
Mr Baxter, who leaves behind wife Alison and son William, 15, had been a patient at the Sir Bobby Robson Cancer Trials Research Centre, in the Northern Centre for Cancer Care at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle.
He had stage 4 melanoma, where the cancer had spread to other parts of the body.
Flags at the college, in Stockton Street, are flying at half-mast as a mark of respect for the Boro fan, who lived in Chester-le-Street.
Today, the college’s principal and chief executive Darren Hankey said: “Bob was a much respected and loved member of the Business Faculty of Hartlepool College where he worked for over 20 years. He was a key member of the team delivering full-time professional and apprenticeship courses.
“He was an active fundraiser for the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and was working as recently as Christmas as well as actively fundraising for their next event.
“He will be sadly missed by his friends, colleagues and the hundreds of students he has taught over the years. Our deepest condolences go to his family.”
Last year, despite his illness, Mr Baxter felt well enough to run the Great North Run for the foundation.
He also helped by talking to the media about his experiences with cancer and how much it meant to undertake a clinical trial of a new cancer drug through the Sir Bobby Robson Centre.
Wife Alison tweeted on Thursday: “My wonderful, beautiful husband has died.
“Happened so fast in the end but we were with him and got to say how much we loved him.
“We’ve lived with cancer for five years but we never stopped living. Have had so much happiness, didn’t waste a day.
“Thanks to the work of the Foundation we had 18 more months together and Bob was always happy to help.”
Liz Luff, from the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation, said: “Bob had an incredibly positive attitude and faced cancer with great courage.
“He helped fundraise for the charity and talked honestly and publicly about life with cancer and the importance of finding more effective treatments, not just for himself, but for others.
“We’re very grateful to him for the help he gave us. We’ll miss him, and the humour he brought to a dreadful situation. He was an extremely special man.”