HUNDREDS of people have paid respects to a much loved member of the community this week, after he sadly died due to complications with coronavirus.

Asif Suriya, known locally as Ste, was a prominent figure of the community in Newton-le-Willows after working in local newsagents, food shops and chippies for most of his life.

After contracting coronavirus, the 50-year-old was taken to hospital where he later suffered a fatal cardiac arrest in the early hours of Sunday, January 9.

Since the news of his death, Ste's family have been inundated with hundreds of messages of support and condolences, with many sharing personal memories of how he helped or supported them in the past.

St Helens Star: Ste and his nephew MoSte and his nephew Mo

Although his funeral was arranged at short notice on Tuesday, January 11, residents quickly came together to pay their respects - raising £670 in just over 24 hours to purchase flowers, a wreath from his beloved Liverpool Football Club, and generally to support the family during this tough time.

Describing Ste, his nephew Mo said that his uncle was the "kindest, most gentle person [he] had ever come across" and was loved by everyone in the community.

Mo, a 21-year-old student at the University of Chester, said: "He was always looking out for people and helping others. He always had a way to make you smile and make you feel special, no matter who you were.

"I've had so many messages - some from people I've never heard of - all telling me stories about how Ste helped them or looked after them. Some people even broke down in tears when I told them the news."

St Helens Star: Ste with his nephewsSte with his nephews

Clearly loved by the people of Newton, Ste settled in the area and lived and worked there since emigrating from Kenya when he was a teenager.

Not caring for money, Mo said that his uncle worked to serve the community in whatever way he could, no matter who you were.

He added: "On a personal level, he was like a second dad to me. Ste didn't have kids so he treated me like one of his own - I just hope I can live to make him proud."

The remainder of the money raised for Ste will be distributed to a number of local charities that he cared about - described as something "he would have wanted".

To continue raising money for the Suriya family, visit this link

St Helens Star: Ste was loved by many after working for the majority of his life in Newton-le-WillowsSte was loved by many after working for the majority of his life in Newton-le-Willows