Brave RAF serviceman loses cancer battle

Shabz receiving his award from RAF Leeming Station Commander, David Arthurton, with his wife, Anum, and his younger daughter, Aisha.
Shabz receiving his award from RAF Leeming Station Commander, David Arthurton, with his wife, Anum, and his younger daughter, Aisha.

A brave and inspirational RAF serviceman who spent his last few weeks raising money for Pendleside Hospice has lost his courageous battle with bowel cancer.

Father-of-two Shahbaz Saleem (27), from Reedley, was diagnosed in November last year after taking part in a charity climb on Mount Snowdon in Wales.

He fought the condition bravely and when he started to receive care at Pendleside he decided to raise money for them.

Initially setting himself a target of £7,000, the target now stands at £16,755 with many donations coming in following news of his death yesterday.

News of his brave fund-raising efforts touched the hearts of many people and as well as being honoured by his colleagues in RAF Logistics, he also received a letter from Prime Minister Theresa May.

He received a Station Commander’s Commendation from the RAF and in a letter, Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier, said: “Your wife and young daughters should be in no doubt about the highest regard that the Royal Air Force holds you, and I remind them that they are part of two families - one at home, and one with a very extensive reach - the Royal Air Force.”

Pendle MP Andrew Stephenson, brought up Shahbaz’s inspirational story at Westminster last week, prompting the Secretary of State for Defence, the Rt Hon. Sir Michael Fallon MP, to comment: “Senior Aircraftman Saleem is an airman of the highest calibre.

“His wife and young daughters should be in no doubt about the highest regard in which the RAF holds him.”

A full military funeral service will take place at the Ghousia Mosque in Nelson at 1pm after Friday prayers. It will be followed by a burial at Walton Lane Cemetery at around 2-15pm. Everybody is welcome to attend.

Funds are still coming in to his JustGiving page and donations can be made at www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Shahbazsaleem.