FRIENDS and colleagues of a popular former hospital radio broadcaster have been left shocked and saddened at news of his death from cancer.

Kevin O’Neill, from Wordsley, passed away on December 1 after battling the disease for almost two years.

He was 62.

Kevin, who worked at the petrol station at Sainsbury's at Oldbury (formerly SavaCentre) for 35 years, was a long-time member of Stourvalley Hospital Radio which used to broadcast to the old Wordsley Hospital until it closed in 2005, and he is fondly remembered for his unfailing efforts to spread a little cheer on Christmas Day to youngsters stuck in hospital over the festive season.

Accompanied by volunteers – Kevin would dress up as Santa to dish out presents on the children’s ward to help bring smiles to the faces of youngsters too unwell to go home.

Friend and former Stourvalley Hospital Radio member Kay Presdee said: "Kevin dedicated his time to making the patients' stay in hospital a little brighter with his wonderful selection of music and his enormous warm-hearted smile."

Janine Pingree, former station manager and chairman at SVHR, added: “Kevin was one of the longest-serving members of Stourvalley.

“He was always happy whether in the studio, on the wards visiting patients, DJ-ing a fundraising disco, cracking a corny joke or joining in the after show drinks at a pub. He was a valued member of the team and my heartfelt condolences go to his wife and daughter.”

Kevin met his wife Nikki in 1997 when he and some of his fellow hospital broadcasters became involved in the Stourbridge 20+ plus social club which used to meet at The Talbot Hotel and later The Bell.

The couple wed in 2000 and went on to have daughter Kaitland, now aged 11.

Nikki, aged 52, said as well as his hospital radio days some of Kevin's happiest times were spent holidaying with his family.

She said despite being diagnosed with cancer in December 2017, which was followed by extensive chemotherapy treatment, they were able to spend quality time together during the school holidays and Nikki said: "It didn't make him really ill and it didn't really affect life."

Things appeared to be going well and in the summer he was cleared for an operation to remove secondary tumours from his liver but in the autumn it was discovered the cancer had spread and he passed away on December 1 at Russells Hall Hospital.

Nikki said: "I don't think anybody expected it was going to go like that."

Kevin's funeral will take place this Thursday (December 19) at 11am at Stourbridge Crematorium.

Donations are expected to go to Mary Stevens Hospice and the Georgina ward at Russells Hall Hospital in Dudley.