A Hartlepool man who inspired an appeal to fly him home after he collapsed in Poland, has died.
Simon Ankers suddenly collapsed in Poznan Airport at the end of July while he was waiting to board a flight back to the North East for a surprise visit to his Hartlepool family.
We are absolutely heartbroken beyond wordsVictoria Ankers
Doctors warned his brain damage was so severe he would never recover from the coma he was in and his devastated loved ones launched an appeal to raise enough money to fly him back to the town by air ambulance so they could be by his side.
In less than a week almost £13,000 was raised and the 39-year-old was brought back to the town.
Sadly, the former Brierton Comprehensive schoolboy died on Friday surrounded by his family.
His sister, Victoria Ankers who launched the funding page, said: “We are absolutely heartbroken beyond words.
“He fought harder than the doctors could ever have imagined and amazed them with his strength and resilience.”
She said the family remain overwhelmed by the generosity and kindness of everyone who supported them.
Victoria said: “Without them we would never have got to spend those last two precious weeks with him. We had a monumental mountain to climb, but even through the complications, trauma, distress and heartbreak we got him home. He can now rest in peace.”
Simon, who also leaves his mum, Pauline Reeve, 63, who lives in the Stranton area of Hartlepool, and his dad, Denis Ankers, 67, who now lives in Wales, was a keen traveller and had been all over the world.
The family were especially keen to get Simon home because Pauline suffers from severe rheumatoid arthritis and her medical condition was proving it very difficult for her to fly out to Poland to be with her son.
Victoria, who is mum to Caitlain, 16, and nine-year-old Drew, said they didn’t know how long Simon would survive in a coma, but he slipped away peacefully.
She said: “Simon was born to travel and had lived in Australia and New Zealand. He had visited places like Bali, Abu Dhabi and Dubai too.
“He was definitely what you would call a free spirit, we never knew where he was, he would just ring up and say he was in Singapore or somewhere like that.”
Simon, who was a keen surfer, moved down to Newquay in Cornwall and had lots of friends in the surfing world.
Despite moving away, he always returned home to visit his family regularly.