Tributes to young Newcastle United fan Kai Heslop who has died after three-year cancer battle

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A young man who battled cancer for three years has died - sparking an outpouring of grief and affection

Tributes have poured in for a young football fan who died after a long cancer battle.

Newcastle United supporter Kai Heslop, 23, from South Shields, died on Saturday at 1.45am. He had been diagnosed with oasteosarcoma, a rare bone cancer, in 2021, and had his leg amputated in May that year, on his 20th birthday.

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But sadly, his uncle Steven Lomas confirmed today that Kai had passed away. He posted on X, formerly Twitter: “Kai died this morning at 1.45am with his loving mam and devoted fiancee by his side. We are absolutely devastated he is gone but his suffering is over. Your family, and life will never be the same without you Kai. If love could have saved you, you’d have lived a thousand years.”

The post set off a chain of people and groups paying their respects, as the term RIP Kai started trending on Twitter. Newcastle United Supporters Club posted: “We are devastated to hear about the passing of Kai Heslop following a battle with cancer. Our thoughts and prayers are with Kai’s family and friends at this heartbreaking time.”

Kai Heslop and his fiancee Nicole Hughes at St James's Park, the home of Newcastle United Picture: Steven Lomas/X Kai Heslop and his fiancee Nicole Hughes at St James's Park, the home of Newcastle United Picture: Steven Lomas/X
Kai Heslop and his fiancee Nicole Hughes at St James's Park, the home of Newcastle United Picture: Steven Lomas/X | Steven Lomas/X

And an account called Mouth of the Tyne (@toonmouthtyne) added: “RIP Kai... One of our own. Condolences to all of his friends and family at this time.”

Kai’s bravery and positive attitude inspired people across the area in the aftermath of his surgery. He amazed doctors when he walked with a zimmer frame just a day after surgery, and in July that year as a tribute to him, the Northern Spire Bridge and the Penshaw Monument in Sunderland were lit yellow, as reported by NationalWorld’s sister title the Shields Gazette.

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