TRIBUTES have been paid to a former Bolton News employee and devoted family man whose wife and sons were his “biggest passion in life”.

Dad-of-three Simon Williams died on January 18 aged 36, just six months after being diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumour in July last year.

Originally from Whitefield, Simon worked as an advertising representative for Newsquest, which owns The Bolton News and The Bury Times, for three years from 1999.

Mr Williams, who grew up in Parr Lane, joined the North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) in 2002, first as a call handler before he progressed to manager of regional operations.

He lived in Stalybridge with his wife, 35-year-old Ange, and son Josh, now aged 10, before the family moved to Hyde. They had two more sons — Lewis, now aged seven and Ben, now aged two.

The former Castlebrook High pupil was delighted to be featured in The Bolton News in 2004 when he presented a certificate to a young boy who called an ambulance for his mum.

Colleagues in uniform will form a guard of honour at his funeral at St Mary’s Parish Church, Newton, Hyde, on Thursday, at 2.30pm He leaves one older brother, Carl, as well as his parents Ellis and Carol, who have both remarried, and a stepmother, stepfather, two stepsisters and a stepbrother.

Carl, aged 39, still lives in Parr Lane, Whitefield.

He said: “Everything Simon and I have ever done we have done together. He was a very good person and I will always strive to be the man he was. Although his life was short he fulfilled it. He died with absolutely no regrets.

“He loved cycling and gadgets but his family were the biggest passion in his life.”

Mr and Mrs Williams met on a blind date and were together for 14 years, marrying in Cyprus eight years ago. Mrs Williams, a staff nurse, said: “He absolutely idolised his family. He put us all on a pedestal that nobody else could ever reach.

“He fought every single day and never gave up — surviving for a family Christmas with the kids, by which point he was in a wheelchair. He was always the one who wanted to help people and loved being in the ambulance service — that made him really proud.”

Mr Williams, described as “honest, reliable, trustworthy and humble”, was diagnosed with a brain tumour on July 24 last year after suffering from headaches and loss of balance.

Following an operation, the tumour grew back within two weeks and after further surgery he declined any more treatment — with Mrs Williams caring for him at home until he died.

In 2006, Mr Williams was commended by the Queen at a Buckingham Palace garden party for supporting the victims of the Boxing Day tsunami with other members of the NWAS.

His brother said: “Simon strived to be in a position where he could actually have the blue lights in his car.

“Now he is going to have blue lights for his funeral, so what he always wanted has finally come true.”

Derek Cartwright, acting director of operations at NWAS, said: “I would like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to Simon Williams, an integral and valued member of staff.

“He epitomised the professional and conscientious nature of the service with the way in which he undertook his role and his unquestionable compassion for the public. He will be sadly missed by all and our condolences and thoughts go out to his wife and three young boys.”

Editor’s secretary at the Bolton News Lisa Schofield added: “I had the pleasure of working with Simon at the Bolton Evening News. “He was a good friend and colleague and will be missed by everyone that knew him.”