The family of a well-loved firefighter from Bexhill who died of cancer have paid tribute to him this week.
Father-of-two Chris ‘Casper’ Mepham, who worked at Bohemia Road fire station in Hastings, passed away peacefully at home on January 6, aged 39.
He was 36 when he was diagnosed with two primary cancers at the beginning of 2017 - stage 4 bowel cancer in his sigmoid colon, together with stage 2 testicular cancer.
The bowel cancer turned out to be a particularly aggressive strain called Signet Ring Cell which is extremely rare and carries a poor prognosis, affecting just 0.5 to one per cent of patients with colon cancers.
Chris’ wife, Sarah, said: “He was the most incredible man I have ever met. He gave me the most wonderful life and two gorgeous children, Esmae and Connie.
“When Chris was diagnosed, he was given nine months to live. I was in early pregnancy at the time of diagnosis with our second daughter. It shattered our world and all that we had known. We had two choices, to get busy living or to succumb to the cancer. He and I moved mountains with sheer grit and determination to keep him alive.
“Chris never gave up. We lived life to the full throughout his treatment and we made the most amazing team.
“Despite the illness, Chris was determined to continue to work. He was with the fire service for more than 15 years in Hastings and Rother. It was his passion, alongside his tree surgery and carpentry business.
“Those who knew Chris would agree with me that he had a wicked sense of humour and a cheekiness that was evident right to the very end.
“His passing has left an unimaginable void in our family but I am determined to continue with strength, positivity and hope so that our girls remember what a wonderful man their father was.”
His funeral will take place on Friday, January 24 at 1.30pm at Beulah Baptist Church in Bexhill followed by a celebration of chris’ life at Leeford Place in Battle at 5pm.
Firefighters will be leading a ‘guard of honour’ outside the church on Friday to pay their respects to Chris.
Sarah said Chris’ passing had left a ‘massive void and gap’ and this fact was reflected in the large number of people expected to attend his funeral.
Buckhurst Road and Clifford Road will be cordoned off while the funeral procession passes through.
While Chris was battling cancer, a fundraising campaign was set up to help pay for his treatments.
Sarah said: “A Just Giving page was set up after treatment options through the NHS became limited, leaving us with no choice but to search for alternative treatments privately, not yet available to NHS patients. I would like to express my heartfelt thanks to everyone who donated, those involved in fundraising events and those who supported and shared our journey. Without the kindness and generosity of everyone, ‘Casper’ would not have survived as long as he did and outlived his prognosis.”
A spokesman for the fire service said: “East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service is deeply saddened that our colleague Chris ‘Casper’ Mepham has passed away.
“He was a very popular and dedicated member of the service and will be greatly missed.
“Bohemia Road Community Fire Station in Hastings would like to open its doors to everyone who wishes to sign a book of condolence.
“Our thoughts are with his family and friends.”
An online tribute page has been set up for those who wish to share their memories of ‘Casper’ at www.chriscasper.muchloved.com.