A FUNDRAISING campaign has been launched for a family following the sudden death of a dad.

More than £3,500 has been raised after the death of Nicholas Francis, from Fordingbridge, aged 42.

He died of a brain haemorrhage shortly before Christmas and leaves his fiancé Sharon Hammond, two sons, aged one and three, and an 11-year old stepson.

The money raised from the GoFundMe page will go towards supporting the family through the beginning of the new year.

Kevin Holmes, a childhood friend of Nick from their time at Highcliffe Primary and Comprehensive Schools, said: “When we met as kids, I liked sports like football and cricket and he didn’t so, on the face of it, we shouldn’t have been good mates, but we were.

“We bonded over a love of fishing and it just grew from there.

“He enjoyed being a nuisance and liked being a big kid. He thrived off other people’s laughter and loved making people smile.”

Kevin set up the GoFundMe to help alleviate some of the financial stress the family may go through post-Christmas.

He added: “Although Nick was good at his job, he was never good with things like money.

“He liked to live in the today so rather than saving money for a rainy day, he did enjoy impromptu things. Nobody expects to die at 42 but he also didn’t have any prevention in place for his family.

“I am the godfather to two of his sons, so I felt like I had a responsibility to help the children out. Even if I wasn’t their godfather or even a family friends, I would still want to help in whatever way I could because they are such a lovely family.

“I have one child of my own and I find it a handful so the strength of Sharon to look after her three boys is truly inspiring and admirable. I have got a huge amount of respect for her.”

Since setting up the fundraising page, Kevin has had a big reaction from people around the world willing to help.

To donate, visit here

“The response we have had has been amazing,” said Kevin. “We have had donations coming in from Hong Kong, Australia and the United States, family and friends who knew him very well and others who are complete strangers who just want to help.”

With the family already grieving the loss of a loved one this Christmas, it is hoped the money raised with help them with some stability and positivity.

Kevin, who now lives in Cirencester, said: “There is no good time to pass away but passing just before Christmas has had an increased effect on his family and friends. It is going to be a desperately difficult time for his wife and children.

“The amount that has been raised is already a good wad of money to help them but going into 2020 the family will need to more to make sure the kids are fed and looked after.

“It won’t make the hurt go away, but it can help some of the worry go away and put food on the children’s plates.”