Ellesmere Port’s fundraising champion Billy Birch - who has raised more than £100,000 for good causes - is fighting for his life in the Countess of Chester Hospital.
The town has turned to the Pride in the Port website with a torrent of messages for much-loved Billy, 76, of Victoria Road, with his family asking people to pray for him and send positive thoughts after it was reported he is suffering from multiple organ failure.
Billy has raised more than £113,841 for local charities in the community in memory of his beloved wife Sylvia who died in his arms aged 49 in 1991.
The same year Billy, working for a building firm, was crushed between a skip and a dumper truck. He was in a coma for three weeks and when he woke up decided he would give something back to the people who helped him.
He told our sister paper the ECHO: “I was a mess. I stayed at the Countess of Chester Hospital. All the arteries in my body had burst and I had a punctured spine.
“The doctors only gave me a one in 100 chance of survival and I had machines everywhere to keep me alive. It was after that I decided to start raising money. I first raised £1,000 for equipment at the Countess of Chester.”
Now the town is hoping the indefatigable fundraiser, who has received a police accolade for his work, will recover.
Andrea O’Neill posted: “Hoping Billy is better soon. Sending love to him and his family,” while Kimberley Burkey added: “Lovely man get well soon.”
Sally Clarke commented: “To Billy and all his family I will pray for a speedy full recovery. We all need you for much longer yet. I’m sending Billy so much love and gratitude.”
Kerry Sedgwick said: “Thoughts are with Billy and his family. Keep fighting Billy, you’re one in a million,” while Pauline Statham posted: “Malley, Neil and the rest of the family we are praying for you. Billy is such a great person.”
Sue Bartley posted: “Get well soon Billy. You are such an amazing man who has helped so many people over the years. Sending you positive thoughts and prayers,” while Angie Corlett suggested: “If love could make you better Billy you’d be fine in no time. I remember when I first moved back to this area and I read about Billy’s fundraising in the local paper and thought him a wonderful character. Get well soon Billy.”
Ellesmere Port and Neston MP Justin Madders has referred to the ‘sad news’ and is hoping Billy will get better.
A suggestion has been made that Asda and Morrisons along with Mecca Bingo would be good places to arrange for people to leave goodwill messages with possibly a ‘Get Well Soon’ book.
Last month Rob White revealed on the web site: “Just had a conversation with Ellesmere Port’s one and only Billy Birch who has now raised over £113,841 for local charities in the community. Surely it is time that this man is recognised and given some kind of honour for all his hard work.”
Receiving his police accolade for his work in the community, Billy said: “Companies and people donate items and I raffle them in pubs and supermarkets. Altogether I’ve raised £11,259 just from raffles, at the moment I’m raising to buy two laptops and an iPad for a centre in Ellesmere Port.
“I would like to thank everyone in Ellesmere Port for their continued support and to the companies who have donated items to the raffle. I couldn’t have done it without them.”
Billy, a keen Everton supporter whose brother Kenny was a right back for the Blues in the 1950s, was invited to Goodison to meet the Everton team as thanks for his fundraising.
An Everton spokesperson said at the time: “Billy has raised an incredible amount of money for countless good causes. For the last 20 years he has been going the extra mile to improve the lives of others and his community spirit is an inspiration.”