Tributes after shock death of keen fisherman Damian (42)

KEEN FISHERMAN: Damian O'Kane (42) (s)
KEEN FISHERMAN: Damian O'Kane (42) (s)

A “SPECIAL” dad will be remembered by family and friends for his kind heart and uplifting personality.

Keen fisherman Damian O’Kane (42) was found dead earlier this year at his home in Morse Street, Burnley.

An inquest had been opened and adjourned in June, to allow for toxicology tests to take place, and was concluded this week.

The Manchester United fan, who was also a follower of Burnley FC, had been with his partner Allison Potts (41) for 15 years, and had a three-year-old son, Jake, from the relationship. Damian, who was a member of the Burnley and District Angling Association, was also extremely close to his family, including his dad Jimmy and mum Kathleen.

Now, along with Allison, his sisters Debra (44) and Catherine O’Kane (38), who work at Sainsbury’s, have paid tribute to the man who put laughter into their lives, and had an impact on anybody he met.

Allison said: “Damian was the type of person who if you were all in a room, you would know he was there.

“He was very funny – a joker. He was really thoughtful as well.

“He would do anything for anybody and he had a really calming manner. He was a voice of reason. People thought so much of him.”

Friends from every part of Damian’s life attended his funeral on June 11th, which saw donations given to the British Heart Foundation. The BHF was a charity close to Damian’s heart, since he had had a heart valve replacement in 2004.

Allison said: “I knew how much we all cared and loved him, but it was so amazing to see how many people turned up to his funeral. In one way. it was quite overwhelming.

“He was so sociable, and he spent so much time with his family, and Jake. He loved him so much. He was a special dad, who just loved his boy.

“Jake misses him so much. We talk about his dad loads. He calls Rowley Lake, where Damian used to go fishing, ‘Daddy’s special place’.

“His friends are so special. They mean so much to us.”

Debra said: “He was always joking when he was younger as well. He went fishing with my dad, Jimmy, and Uncle Terry, since he was 10. Once he started going, that was it.

“His funeral was like a football match, there were that many family and friends there.”

And Catherine added: “You couldn’t get into the crematorium.

“People that Damian would have mentioned, but Allison had never met, were there.”

Damian, who worked as a chemical processor, suffered a blow in 2011 when both he and Allison, a product launch co-ordinator, faced redundancy from their jobs at cleaning products manufacturer McBride’s.

Despite securing a new job, the former St Theodore’s High School pupil, who had worked at McBride’s for 23 years, never fully recovered, and as a consequence had to take time off work with depression. He was found hanged in May and on Tuesday East Lancashire Coroner Mr Richard Taylor recorded a verdict of suicide.

He told the family: “You’ve lived through what you thought were bad times.

“You thought everything was going to get back to normal as far as it could.

“Damian was very down about the redundancy from a job he had held for over 20 years. He had found it exceptionally hard.

“It appears to me Damian took his own life, while he was extremely depressed.”

• A 24-hour fishing tournament will be held at Rowley Lake in Damian’s memory, on October 6th. Beginning at noon, the event, which has been organised by friends, will see the winner get a five year fishing pass for the lake, as well as a trophy. Entry will cost £20.