Tributes have been paid to an inspirational former soldier who has died following a five-year cancer battle.
More than 100 people, from all corners of the globe, are expected to attend Nicholas Szabo’s funeral on Friday.
The dad-of-two, known as Nick to family, friends and colleagues, died at home in Knuzden on Tuesday, April 23, aged 45.
His wife and childhood sweetheart Jeanette described Nick as a sturdy individual who fought illness with dignity and bravery.
She said: “We all feel numb. Even though we knew nothing could be done to save him, it was still a shock because he went so quickly in the end.
“There are no words whatsoever to describe how we are feeling. I’ve known him since I was 10 years old. And we later got together and married when I was 17. I’ve known him for so much of my life.
“I don’t know how to go on without him really. His children were very close to him. He remained upbeat until the end and told his children to always be true to themselves.”
Jeanette, a support worker at Blackburn with Darwen Council, said that Nick was a ‘real people person’ who loved his children Rebecca, 19, an apprentice hairdresser at Exphairteze in Accrington, and 13-year-old Accrington Academy pupil John.
She added: “He and the children all used to go fishing together. They were all mad about going on the biggest and most dangerous exciting theme park rides too.
“Nick also loved challenges, anything, whether it was personal when doing skiing, boxing, or anything work related. He always put others before himself. He was full of life and very fit and active up until the last few years. We’ve had so many cards saying how Nick was the most brave and inspirational man they’d ever met. He was made of sturdy stuff, and was very stoic.”
Nick, a former soldier for 12 years in the 13th Bty, 19th Field Regiment in the Royal Artillery, served in bases in Germany, Canada and Northern Ireland.
Up until Christmas he had worked for the CSL Sofa Company in both Oswaldtwistle, then, when the company moved, in Warrington.
Five years ago he was diagnosed with bile duct cancer and was told he wouldn’t survive.
Nick miraculously went into remission but the illness returned in October last year and he died last week following a rapid deterioration in his health.
Born in Manchester, Nick enjoyed fishing and supported Manchester United.
A piper from Nick’s old regiment is expected to play during the funeral service on Friday, May 3, at Accrington Cemetery Chapel.