TRIBUTES have been paid to a “loving” father who has sadly died.

Peter Cross, 51, of Stapler’s Heath, Great Totham, died in hospital this month surrounded by his family.

Mr Cross had been diagnosed with a brain tumour in November 2016.

The doctors at Queen’s Hospital in Romford gave him 12 to 14 months to live, but he managed to live for even longer.

Over the next year, many fundraisers were held for Peter to raise money for an extension to be built at his home so he could live out his final months at home with his family.

This included a football match being held in Colchester which raised more than £1,500.

In autumn last year, after wife Nicola, 41, and children Amie, 14 and James, 11 made a plea for volunteers, funds and materials to get the extension built, tradesman Chris Whittle, based in Chelmsford, took up the challenge of getting the entire extension complete by December 22.

Chris, who runs his own company CAW building services, had done a few day’s work for the family previously, but it was only after working on a similar project was he inspired to take on the full job.

Thanks to a huge effort from Chris, his team and the community, the extension was finished just before Christmas Day.

Nicola paid tribute to her husband as a man “who fought to the end”.

She said: “This was a very sad day for us all. We all knew it would be coming around sooner or later, but I’ve now lost a wonderful husband, and my kids a loving father.

“He was a brilliant, caring and gentle man who loved us all dearly.

“The greatest thing about him was he fought until the end. He was only given about a year to live, but he managed to live past that.

“The happiest thing about it was he got to spend much of his last days with us before he was admitted to hospital.

“We couldn’t have done that without the incredible support from our friends and the community.”

Chris Whittle, who finished Peter’s extension, said: “Peter was very much a family man, he would stick his head out for anyone.

“He was a great guy and a fighter right until the end, even though he lost the battle.

“When we were working on his house he would speak to us the whole time, was very friendly and funny.

“It was a terrible shame he had to go out in the way he did, it was very sad, but there was lots of happiness on the way, and I’m so proud of us for getting his house finished for Christmas.

“Those of us who worked on his house will be going along to his funeral in our work clothes to honour him.”