Moving tributes have been paid to a “sociable and selfless” newsagent who died of asbestos related cancer, mesothelioma.

John Burgess, known to many as Jack, died on October 10, aged 80 before becoming one of the first mesothelioma sufferers to donate his body to medical research.

He was diagnosed with mesothelioma, a type of lung cancer caused by exposure to asbestos, in November 2011.

Up until his diagnosis, Mr Burgess had no idea he had the cancer, which had been latent for 60 years.

He had been exposed to the dangerous fibres during his first apprenticeship working with electrical equipment in 1949.

Doctors gave Mr Burgess between eight months and three years to live but he managed to carry on almost symptom free until May this year.

Gradually he started to lose the ability to breathe and relied on round the clock care before sadly passing away.

His son Ian Burgess said: “I am really proud of what we have achieved on behalf of my dad. He was a selfless person all his life and would do anything for anyone.

“Giving his body to research was typical of him.”

Mr Burgess was known for his love of the outdoors and caravanning in Scotland with his wife Enid, who died in 1999.

Long term friend Brian Gibson supported Mr Burgess in his final weeks and helped the family fulfil his dying wish.

Mr Gibson said: “Jack and I had been friends for years. He would bring the caravan to stay with me in North Wales when he wanted a break from the newsagents.

“He never complained about his illness but when I realised how serious it was, I knew I wanted to help him.

“For me it was an opportunity to return the friendship he had shown me over the years and spend time with him during his final weeks.

“Even though Jack was ill, he always kept his spirits up. When we looked into donating his body to medical research we were initially told there was only a 10 per cent chance of it happening because of the inquest.

“But it was what Jack wanted so we made it happen.”

Mr Burgess’ daughter, Lynn Howarth, added: “I think we have given my dad a good send off. We want to thank the hospice, Macmillan and the district nurses for all of their support. They were fantastic.”

The family will continue to campaign for funding or research into mesothelioma.

If you or a family member have also been affected by mesothelioma, please contact us today on Freephone 0800 294 3065, or talk to us on live chat where we will be happy to answer any questions that you may have.