Ellesmere Port and Neston MP Justin Madders has confirmed that community hero Billy Birch passed away yesterday (Sunday, December 10).
The 76-year-old, who was extremely well known in Ellesmere Port for his steadfast fundraising for good causes in the area, had been in intensive care at the Countess of Chester Hospital for more than a week suffering from multiple organ failure.
Only days ago his family said he had been showing some signs of progress but Mr Madders wrote on Facebook this morning that Billy lost his fight last night, surrounded by his family.
He wrote: "Very sad to hear Billy Birch passed away last night. He was in the Countess and surrounded by his family. He will be remembered by the people of Ellesmere Port for his tireless fundraising activities and for his sense of humour.
"He raised over £113,000 for local good causes and was about to be recognised for his efforts with a national honour but sadly this news came in too late for him to be told. RIP Billy."
Others to opay tribute included Bren Hughes who said: “Such a lovely man, RIP Billy, xx so sad’ while Carl Teasdale added: “So so sad this news today, God Bless r Billy, the supporter of so many charities. He will sadly be missed.”
Teresa Fahy felt: “A sad loss to Ellesmere Port, a true gentleman. RIP Billy,” while Ann-Marie Hughes said: “What a legend this man is... Selfless, giving, caring. A true angel.
“Rest in peace Mr Birch, you’ve earned a red carpet to the pearly gates.”
Over the years Billy 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.”
Billy, a keen Everton supporter whose brother Kenny was a right back for the Blues in the 1950s, was even once 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.”