Family’s shock at death of ‘gentle giant’ (31)

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THE family of a “gentle giant” who was found collapsed on the street has spoken of their grief and shock at his sudden death.

Matthew Bracewell (31), of Oxford Street, Brierfield, was found yards from his home in the early hours of Sunday, May 27th, by police. An ambulance was called and he was taken to the Royal Blackburn Hospital where he died.

His dad Mr Graham Bracewell, of Colne Road, Burnley, said his son was “bubbly and jovial” and said the family do not know how Matthew died. He had been taking painkillers for a perforated ear drum.

Matthew had been out with his brother David (36) and a friend to play snooker at a club in Burnley before he was found.

David said: “He was enjoying himself, he was laughing and joking.”

Mr Bracewell (55) said the news had come as a massive shock to the family. Matthew’s mum Sharon (55), who suffers with ill-health, was taken into hospital after receiving the news but has since returned home.

One of seven brothers and sisters, Matthew, who liked football and cycling, also had six nieces and nephews and many friends in Burnley and in Pendle where, up until 12 months ago, he attended the New Life Christian Centre in Colne. The family used to live in Colne before moving to Burnley around 12 years ago. He had recently worked as a part-time labourer.

Brother David said: “He always looked up to me. I was his big brother. If he was ever in any trouble he would look to me to bail him out. Matthew was close to all the lot of us but he was particularly close to me. We used to play pool together, he was a friend as well as a brother.”

Mr Bracewell, who underwent a cancer operation last year and is still having treatment, said: “He used to work with me and he used to pick up two concrete flags and put one under each arm. We used to call him JCB. He had a lot of friends. He will be missed by a lot of people.”

Matthew leaves his parents, brothers David, Carl, Adrian, Christopher and Adam and sister Alison.

An inquest into Matthew’s death has been opened and adjourned by Blackburn Coroner Mr Michael Singleton. His funeral will take place on Thursday at Skipton Crematorium.