The family of a father who died last month have paid tribute to his ability to “light up any room” as friends and strangers rally together to raise funds for his funeral.
Bartender Luke Wilson, who lived in Horbury, died at the age of 21.
A fundraising page has been set up to help his family cover the costs of laying him to rest and more money will be raised at a two-day community gala, dedicated in his memory, to be held in Wakefield this weekend.
It is hoped cash can also be put aside in a fund to support Mr Wilson’s two-year-old son.
Paul Wormald, the partner of Mr Wilson’s mother Andrea Newby, said: “Luke lived every minute to the max. He would light up a room irrespective of whether it was a dark nightclub, just by his presence. He touched a lot of people’s hearts did the lad. People wouldn’t be coming forward and raising money – that speaks volumes for Luke.”
Mr Wilson, who grew up in Lupset, lived with his brother Thomas, one of his five siblings, but spent much of his time flitting back to see his mum.
Mr Wormald said: “He was very, very close to his mother, and to his siblings. Everyone used to call him a proper mum’s boy. I have never seen a relationship as close as theirs. They could communicate just by looking at each other.” He added: “We were best mates Luke and I.”
After leaving school Mr Wilson underwent military training at army college in Harrogate, before becoming a bartender.
At the time of his death, he was working in his home city in bars and clubs including Brick Works, Kooky and After Dark.
Mr Wormald, 53, said: “Luke was well known around town because of his flamboyant lifestyle.” He said: “A lot of the people coming forward [to donate or support us] we didn’t know. It has opened our eyes to how popular he was.”
Mr Wilson’s friend Shaun Bielby has dedicated a gala, to take place at Thornes Park, on Saturday and Sunday, in his memory.
On both days, the gala, organised by Mr Bielby’s company SB12 entertainment, will include a minute’s applause for Mr Wilson at 1pm.
Programme sales, collection buckets and stalls will help to raise cash.
Mr Bielby, 26, of Flanshaw had already planned the event but decided to hold it in memory of his friend, to support Mr Wilson’s family.
He said: “Luke would do anything for anyone. I have never heard anyone say anything bad about him.
“All his mates loved him and he loved them. He was always smiling and happy. He always wanted to help others.”
He added: “Thanks to everyone who has helped to raise awareness of the event – it’s going to help massively.”
The free event, which takes place between 11am and 4.30pm each day, will include a fairground rides, live performances, zorbing, go-carts, stalls and children’s activities.
Thanking everybody who has supported the family, Mr Wormald said: “The generosity of everybody including Shaun is humbling.
“It’s overwhelmed us, it really has. It grounds you, it stops you in your tracks.”
Mr Wilson’s body was found at a waste recycling plant in Leeds on June 30. His family described his death as a “tragic accident”.
His funeral will take place at 11.40am on July 24 at Wakefield Crematorium in Kettlethorpe.
To donate to the fundraising page, visit: https://tinyurl.com/yaexta7d
In a statement issued in the days after Mr Wilson’s death, police said: “At 11.41am on Saturday, June 30, police were called to a waste recycling firm, in Knowsthorpe Way, Leeds, where the body of a man had been found among waste material brought to the site.
“As a result of enquiries, the man was identified as a 21-year-old from Wakefield and his family were contacted.
“It was established that there were no suspicious circumstances and the Coroner’s Office has been informed.”
The Health and Safety Executive is looking into the matter.
A spokesperson told the Wakefied Express: “HSE’s investigation into this incident is ongoing.
“We are unable to comment further at this time.”
The terrace of a bar in Wakefield city centre has been named in honour of Mr Wilson, who was a friend of staff and a “loyal customer”.
The Luke Wilson Terrace at Hideout bar, bears a memorial plaque reading ‘Forever in our hearts. Fly high Lukey’.
Alex Thompson, managing director of the bar and cocktail lounge, which has also been raising funds, said: “In town we consider all the workers to be ‘a family’ and Luke was very much a central part of this.
“The terrace was something we were already on with building at the time of his passing. We had told him about it and he expressed his excitement towards how good it would be for our business.
“It seemed fitting that we named the terrace in his honour, somewhere his friends and family are free to come anytime and reflect, share a nice memory or just see his name and be happy.
“We’re honoured to have a been a small part of the fundraising for Luke’s funeral but in honesty most of the credit for this must go to our head doorman Brad Arrowsmith who has driven the collections and events and worked himself to the bone to support the funding of this money.
“All our thoughts and prayers are with Luke’s family at this tragic time, and we hope they know they always have a friend and someone to talk to in Hideout.”