Friends and family have been paying tribute to a York father who has died after contracting coronavirus.
Mark Saunders died on Friday (20 November) just over a week after testing positive for coronavirus. He was 50.
His death came just a day after his partner Donna Parks was also hospitalised with the virus.
Mark was found dead in his bedroom by a friend after the illness worsened and “his body could no longer fight it”.
It was a huge shock for family and friends, who knew Mark as a big character – with a personality as colourful as his hair.
Now they have rallied round to help at this very sad time.
Like many people, Mark, from Acomb, did not have a funeral plan or any insurance that could have helped cover the cost. Relatives set up a fundraiser to help Donna, as she continues to be treated for coronavirus in hospital.
It has already exceeded expectations, raising almost £1,500.
Mark leaves behind four children, four stepchildren and nine grandchildren.
Donna’s daughter Sammie Jade Richardson said: “He was a big character but also a grumpy one! He was known to the grandchildren as Grumpy.
“To our mum, he was her big soft bear, she was his Cherry Pie and they loved each other deeply.
“When he contracted Covid he became very unwell, sadly his body could no longer fight it and he gained his angel wings.”
Sammie told YorkMix: “To the people who donated, I say a huge thank you from the bottom of our hearts for showing so much kindness to our Mum.
“It’s taken away a lot of stress from her which wasn’t helping her recovery from Covid. She knows now that she can give Mark the send-off he deserves.”
Mark’s love of metal and punk music once led to him breaking his arm in a mosh pit – but it never stopped him from cranking up the volume for New Model Army and 5 Finger Death Punch.
He even had his own New Model Army private mosh pit in the living room, which many in York will remember seeing on Facebook.
“Mark was known for his colour hair and crazy personality that Donna helped bring out in him too,” Sammie said.
“They were and always will be a crazy colourful couple that would do anything to help their nearest and dearest.
“He participated in lots of the plays Donna wrote and helped a lot in the background too, with his most remembered moment being when he played the ugly sister.”
Mark helped when Donna worked at Age UK by volunteering – “and even growing his hair into a Mohican and dyeing it different colours, he raised over £300 for such a worthy cause.”
Sammie paid this emotional tribute on behalf of the whole family.
“He truly was a beautiful person and we all loved him for it in our own ways.
“We love you Grumpy Bear, lots of love from all us, your inherited family (I bet you never realised you was going to gain this crazy lot when you first met our mum, but we know you wouldn’t have it any other way)!
“Mark also leaves behind his beautiful children who he loved so very much, Jez, Jack, Jazmine and Lucas.
“Rock in heaven!”