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PAUL WAS FULL OF LIFE TO THE END.. HIS CANCER BATTLE WAS AN INSPIRATION; MARIE CURIE FUND TO REMEMBER THE MAN WHO MEANT SO MUCH: Family and friends tell of DJ's last days that inspired star to make documentary.

Byline: Samantha Booth

INSPIRING, gentle flamboyant, fun and kind ... just a few of the words used to describe DJ and model Paul Nicholls.

And mum Linda Norton and sister Claire Nicholls weren't the only ones to think such thoughts of their "special boy".

Among them was actress Jaime Winstone, who described Paul as unforgettable.

Inspired by her friend who lost his battle with cancer aged 27, she has made a film about young people fighting the disease, to be be shown on TV in the new year.

Jaime, the star of movies such as Made In Dagenham and Kidulthood, still thinks about Paul every day and will talk about his brave and inspiring approach to his illness in the documentary for the BBC.

Jaime said: "You meet people like Paul and you never forget them. He was such an individual, his sense of humour was infectious.

"Even when he was ill, he was still larger than life. In dealing with his illness, he was so strong that he became a real inspiration for me."

The daughter of screen icon Ray Winstone saw Paul for the last time when he travelled to London three weeks before his death.

She said: "He was still full of so much life and, typically of Paul, he was making jokes about his wheelchair, saying he was only in it because he wanted to be pushed around.

"That was his way of being strong. He was such an amazing character, I still think about him daily."

Jaime was so touched by Paul's life and death, she was determined to be at his funeral in Glasgow in September.

The 25 year-old said: "It was a strangely sad but beautiful day.

"We shared memories of what fun we had with Paul and it really was quite a breakthrough funeral in many ways. Paul was a real gay icon in Glasgow and in London and it was as he wanted.

"It was beautiful because everyone was dancing and singing in the church and everyone was head to toe in glitter and purple.

"It is hard to lose any friend but one so young is really tough."

Paul's fight with the disease has also been an inspiration to many others too.

He started writing a blog - w w w.musicisdisease.blogspot. com - last year after he was diagnosed with a tumour in the bowel and more than 40,000 people have read it.

Now his name will live on in a charitable trust set up by his family. Fifty per cent of all cash raised will go to Marie Curie hospices. The other half will be dedicated to research, in particular studies into bowel cancer in young adults.

His mum Linda, 55, from Shotts, Lanarkshire, said: "I always thought Paul was special but then all mums think that about their wee boys.

"Now, though, I know that a lot of people thought he was special too and I can see how many lives he touched.

"He was incredibly perceptive to other people's needs and would always listen to what someone else had to say."

Sister Claire, 33, said: "I am blessed to have been his sister.

"He was so very brave throughout his illness despite the pain and never lost his special touch. I could not have been more proud of him."

Paul first suffered health problems last Christmas. On a visit to his mum he had stomach pains and constipation. He was living in London working as a DJ and model, and when he returned south he collapsed.

After two weeks in hospital, doctors diagnosed bowel cancer, which affects only a hundred or so men under the age of 30 every year.

It wasn't until Paul - a classically trained violinist and pianist - returned to Glasgow and saw a specialist that he was told it was incurable.

PAUL, whose many friends included TV presenter Gail Porter, underwent a course of chemotherapy in an attempt to prolong his life, leaving him very sick. It was then he decided to write a blog about his experiences.

Linda said: "He was feeling awful and decided to start writing because it might help somebody else.

"He wasn't worried for himself, he had true humility from a young age."

By summer he was spending regular spells in the Marie Curie hospice at Stobhill, Glasgow, where he remained upbeat despite the prognosis.

Linda said: "He was positive every day and always made sure he had something else to think about."

Paul died on August 29, sooner than anyone expected.

On the morning of his death he texted to ask her to bring in two chocolate muffins and he was well enough to join Linda and Claire for a steak pie lunch in the hospice canteen.

He had even got up, showered and shaved as usual but the pain in his back was worse then normal.

At 6pm he fell asleep and a while later staff said they didn't think he would make it through the night.

Linda said: "Towards the end he never lost any dignity, we were actually so surprised he died the day he did."

Paul's gravestone reads: "Remember me and smile." A fitting tribute for such a fun and caring young man. Jaime agrees. She said: "He was was the party.

"He was such a beautiful creature and I say creature because he had his own flamboyant, outrageous look."

For his family, the festive period will be a particularly difficult time.

Claire said: "Paul loved Christmas and he would always go for it."

As far as Linda is concerned, it's cancelled this year with every penny she would have spent going instead to Marie Curie.

She said: "Paul was so thankful for the care he got there, he called his nurse his guardian angel."

Linda and Claire are hoping the Paul Nicholls Trust website will be set up soon at Meanwhile, donations can be made at the Shotts branch of the Airdrie Savings Bank.


THE COLOUR PURPLE: Friends, far left, at Paul's funeral. Mum Linda and sister Claire, middle, and Paul with pal MUSIC MAKER: Paul loved being life and soul of the party NO TEARS: Jaime Winstone and friend at Paul's funeral party
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Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Dec 16, 2010
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