“He went with a smile, and he will be smiling now.”
These are the words of a heartbroken family who this week have paid tribute to their loving and inspirational son.
Worksop man Liam Buckley, 23, lost his battle with bowel cancer on Thursday, October 8 at Weston Park Hospital in Sheffield after being diagnosed with the terminal illness last year.
The aerospace engineering graduate spent his final days at the seaside - which was his last wish - alongside his mum Janet, dad Darren, sister Emma and brother Adam.
“I don’t think he ever knew how popular he was, but we always realise these things when it is too late,” Janet said.
“He was loving and very bright.
“The support and messages has been overwhelming.
“He would never believe the messages we have received about him.”
The F1 fanatic, who attended Redlands Primary School and Outwood Academy Valley in Worksop, warmed the hearts of everyone he ever met.
His family have received cards from people who spent just a few hours in his company.
One message from Dr Claire Eason, at Newgate Medical Centre, Worksop, read: “I was struck by his maturity, calmness and absolute dignity. Rare beyond anything I’ve come across. His warm smile, and sparkling eyes gave him such an aura and hid his illness to anyone not aware.”
Another from his former teacher at Redlands, Amanda Jones, said: “His intelligence, dry wit and cheeky smile made him not only a delightful child but an even more wonderful young adult.”
Liam’s sister Emma said her brother had a big impact on the people around him, including the nurses who treated him.
“He always jokingly described himself as a genius, he knew everything,” Emma said.
“He would study the tracks in F1, before he had radiotherapy he wanted to know everything about it, his memory of recall was brilliant.”
Emma added: “He went with a smile, and he will be smiling now. He never gave up.”
After being diagnosed with terminal cancer, selfless Liam ticked off a number of goals he had always wanted to achieve.
He went to Silverstone to watch the British Grand Prix, met F1 driver Jenson Button at the McLaren Technology Centre in Surrey, fed a tiger, slept in a zoo, saw the Red Arrows at RAF Scrampton and sat in the cockpit alongside the pilot and co-pilot during a Virgin Little Red Flight from Heathrow to Manchester.
Liam’s dad Darren said: “Liam had a one-to-one with Jenson Button. He was great, a really genuine person.
“He loved his F1 and his engineering.”
Janet told the Guardian: “When Liam came out of the cockpit he turned to me and just said ‘thank you mum’.”
Earlier this year, family friend Debbie Johnston-Sparkles launched a fundraising page to help make Liam’s last wish of a trip to the seaside come true.
Donations flooded in from all across the country, raising more than £3,000, which allowed Liam and his family to enjoy trips to Bridlington and Primrose Valley.
“It meant so much to us to be able to do that because we could not afford it otherwise,” Janet said.
“Liam was sat with his feet in the sea and he said a big thank you to everyone. He was very grateful.”
Liam’s former East Midlands United junior football team manager, Malcolm Reynolds, also had fond memories of him when he played as a youngster.
“He was a really nice, pleasant, happy go lucky lad,” Malcolm said.
“He was never no trouble, he was quite shy.
“He was a pleasure to coach.”
“He would always turn up in this little white hat.”
Janet now says she is going to run the London Marathon next year for cancer charity CLIC Sargent which supports children and young people, with a target set of £1,800.
“He always wanted me to do it,” she said.
“I would like to say a big thank you to everyone for helping us. I cannot give back to every single person but I can do this for them.”
“I would also like to say a big thank you to all the nurses and staff at the Weston Park Teenage Cancer Trust who did everything for Liam.”
Donate at www.justgiving.com/JanetBuckley/ or text JBLB92 and the amount to 70070.
The Innings pub in Worksop is also selling tickets for a charity night in memory of Liam on Saturday, November 7.
Liam’s funeral will take place at St Anne’s Church, Newcastle Avenue, Worksop, on Thursday, October 29 at 12noon.