Shock death of award-winning Burnley teen

James Bullas
James Bullas

A Burnley teenager who loved nothing more than making those around him smile has died.

James Bullas (19), of Stroyan Street, was found dead in his room on Saturday after going to bed the previous night perfectly fine.

His mum Sharon had been on holiday in Turkey when she was given the heartbreaking news and said the whole family was still trying to come to terms with losing a young man who lit up every room he entered.

“I just collapsed to the floor when I found out. You don’t expect to be burying your son at just 19 years old. It was completely out of the blue. We still can’t believe it.”

James was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when he was 14 and had spent the last six months in and out of Royal Blackburn Hospital suffering with pancreatitis.

Despite his condition Mrs Bullas said it had been three weeks since he had been to hospital and when she left for Turkey he was in good health.

“He was absolutely fine. He had been to the hospital every month since April because of his blood sugar levels but he was OK when I left. The doctors kept saying he needed these certain tests but they kept being put off.”

A former pupil at Unity College, James was a dedicated volunteer who loved working with youngsters in the community.

He won Young Volunteer of the Year at Burnley Community Sports Awards in 2011 and had picked up numerous other awards and certificates for his selfless work in recent years.

“He excelled at working with children,” said his proud mum. “He wanted to be a children’s entertainer and had been working at Wild Mascots in Yorkshire Street blowing up balloons, putting on glitter tattoos and dressing up. He just loved to entertain.”

James was also a keen DJ and had performed at various christenings and weddings. He had a real passion for music but making people smile was his true passion according to his family.

He even gave himself the nickname “Gok”, after the famous fashionista who he shared an uncanny resemblance with.

“He loved life and was a very funny person,” said Mrs Bullas. “He was a real cheeky chappy. When he walked into a room it really would just light up. He’d always have everybody in stitches. There was never a dull moment with James around.”

James had been looking into acquiring funding in order to set up his own business in recent months and was looking forward to going on his first holiday with girlfriend Emma on Monday to visit his grandparents in Spain.

“He was a lovely person who just loved making people smile,” said Emma. “He was really looking forward to our holiday.”

James leaves mum Sharon, dad Peter, stepdad Duncan, stepmum Jo, sisters Emma and Sophie and girlfriend Emma.

His funeral will take place at Burnley Crematorium on Thursday, August 29th, at 3-40pm. A wake will be held at Rosegrove Unity Club following the service.

The family is also asking anybody who attends the funeral to wear bright colours.

“He was a colourful young lad and we want the day to be a celebration of his life,” said his mum.