THE family of a sensitive, funny and devoted family man who was always the life and soul of the party has been left shattered after he collapsed and died at a Christmas party.
Dad-of-three Mr Eamonn Kilbride (46) had been dancing with his wife Julie at the event on Saturday night hosted by Thwaites Brewery in Blackburn, where he was an IT director.
He complained of feeling unwell and went to the toilet. When he did not return Julie went to look for him and found him collapsed on the floor.
Attempts to resuscitate him failed and he was pronounced dead at the Royal Blackburn Hospital in the early hours of Sunday – Julie’s birthday.
“He was laughing and joking before it happened,” said Julie (49), a former dental nurse.
“He will always be our star, he was just so admired by everybody.”
Known among his family for his often “silly” jokes, avid Liverpool Football Club fan Mr Kilbride, who was born and brought up in Dublin, Ireland, moved to Burnley in 1984. He worked at Lucas’s for many years before getting a job at Thwaites where he had worked for the last 16 years.
He met Julie at a town centre pub, now the Falcon, in 1989. The couple married a year later and had children Laurajade (22), Jack (21) and Conor (18), who are now all at university.
“He would sit staring at me and when I asked him why he was doing it, he would just say ‘because I love you so much,’” added Julie.
“He lived for me and for his family and he always saw the best in people. We didn’t realise how popular he was until this happened. We didn’t know that he had such an impact on so many people’s lives. I haven’t been able to read all the tributes on Facebook yet. There are so many.”
His sister Sandra Evans said: “It wouldn’t matter if you were a life-long friend or had just met him, he would treat everybody the same. He might have been our baby brother but he wasn’t, he was like an older brother.”