AN INSPIRATIONAL Letterston man, who raised £30,000 for Withybush Hospital’s Ward 10 after being diagnosed with stage four lung cancer, lost his battle with the illness last Thursday.

Luke Harding, 30, received his diagnosis in September 2016. A previously fit and healthy young man who loved boxing and playing football Luke’s diagnosis came as a shock. In its aftermath he set about raising funds for Withybush Hospital and raising awareness of cancer.

Lorry driver Luke initially set out to raise £3,000 for the hospital but his infectious attitude, positivity and charm meant that things soon snowballed with friends both at home and abroad, as well as Luke’s employers, Gamallt Concrete, joining in the fundraising.

Luke did not let his diagnosis define him. Amidst his treatment the Pride of Britain finalist trained hard and successfully completed the Cardiff Half Marathon in just under four hours last October alongside best friend Kim Griffiths.

He also set out to walk the 186 mile Pembrokeshire Coast Path, managing to get as far as Solva in the company of friends and supporters before having to put the challenge on hold. However the walk is still continuing, with Cathryn Clatworthy of Creswell’s Café, Fishguard at its helm.

His fundraising efforts meant that Luke handed over cheques totalling £30,000 to Ward 10 staff at Withybush Hospital last year.

He also donated an iPad to the hospital enabling it to adopt a new international programme revolutionising the treatment of lung cancer and how it is recorded.

In addition to the £30,000 for Withybush Luke also donated smaller amounts to Fishguard Health Centre, the Paul Sartori Foundation and Shalom House, St Davids.

A hilarious evening of murder mystery, which Luke's family say they will always retain as a happy memory, meant that Macmillan Cancer research benefitted too.

On Friday Luke’s Facebook page was flooded with hundreds of tributes from people whose lives he had touched with his humour, humility and determination. Many described him as an “inspiration” and a “true gentleman”

Luke’s family paid tribute to his wit, tenacity, charm, determination and positivity, thanking everybody who enabled him to focus on life’s positives.

Younger brother, Jack, described Luke as “sporty, hard-working, talented charming, brave and humble”.

“Everything he did he gave it 100 percent,” he said. “There was nothing that would stop him once he put his mind to it. Even when he was faced by challenges he still carried on to the best of his abilities.

“He was a very genuine person. If he could do something to help you he would.

“He was a sporty, outgoing, confident man. Not someone who was diagnosed with cancer and didn’t have a life to live. He gave it his all, even in the last year of his life.

“As a family we think Luke stood up to cancer. Maybe he didn’t win the fight, but he gave it a good go.”

Luke's mum, Alex added: "Luke was very much aware, even humbled, to know that he was the catalyst, and it was the people who got behind and alongside him, that generated the fundraising.

"Last week before he left hospital he handed over 4  previously purchased and inscribed #teamHarding  tablets for use by patients receiving treatment on Chemo Day unit Withybush. He just ran out of time for an official opportunity."

A service of celebration will be held to commemorate Luke’s life on Saturday, February 17, at 10am at Parc Gwyn Crematorium, Narberth.

Mourners are asked to wear orange for #teamHarding, blue for Luke’s beloved Chelsea FC, or both.

Donations can be made in lieu of flowers to the Paul Sartori Foundation, who provided invaluable support to the family or the Dreams & Wishes Charity, dedicated to helping seriously ill children live their lives and dreams as fully as possible.

Donations may be sent to Paul Jenkins & Sons Funeral Directors, Feidr Castell, Fishguard, SA65 9BB. Tel: 01348 873250.