AN inspirational man who became a local hero after raising thousands of pounds for Macmillan Cancer Support whilst battling the disease himself, has died aged 40.

Mark Nixon, who attended St Mary's, Menston, from the age of 11 and returned there to work as a teaching assistant in 2015, died on November 26 after a 14 year battle with cancer.

He was diagnosed with testicular cancer aged 26 which was so advanced he had a very poor prognosis. It was the beginning of a very brave and courageous battle with cancer. His mother Julia Nixon, of Baildon, said: "He almost died a week after being a patient at St James Hospital. It was a devastating situation for himself, his family and friends. He had nine cycles of chemotherapy and over the next 11 years had eight major operations which took place at St James’s Hospital, Leeds, The Royal Marsden Hospital, London and The Royal Brompton Hospital, London."

Mark told his mum at the time “I don’t know how long I have to live, so I have to live my life” and in between operations Mark, travelled to countries including Australia for the Rugby World Cup, Russia, China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Mexico, Thailand the US and many others.

In 2009, aged 32, and living in Rawdon, he succeeded in his bid to reach the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro not long after a major operation. Julia said: "Mark was a local hero at home as he managed sponsorship of over £3,000 for Macmillan Cancer Support."

Unfortunately when Mark got home he found out that his dad David had terminal cancer. David sadly died in September 2013.

Throughout his life Mark loved sporting activities, including swimming, football, rugby, cricket and much later rowing. Along with his sister Louise, he joined Aireborough Swimming Club aged seven. He was introduced to Otley Rugby Club by a friend aged 14 and absolutely loved the sport.

After leaving school he trained as a Quantity Surveyor working for a firm in Leeds. He later worked in his dad's landscaping business before in 2014 enrolling on a Master’s degree course in Outdoor and Adventurous Activities, at Leeds Beckett University. He wrote his dissertation on the positive effects of these activities on cancer patients.

In 2015 he began work as a teaching assistant at his old school, St Mary’s Menston, a job he loved this job, particularly coaching the Year 7- 9 rugby squads and taking them to tournaments in the school’s minibus. Mark told his mum: “I have finally found my niche”.

When he became seriously ill this year St Mary's were highly supportive and kind to him.

Mark’s final dream and goal was to move back into his Saltaire apartment, overlooking the river, opposite Bradford Rowing Club where he was a member, before he died. He achieved this goal with the help of friends and lived there for two weeks before he went into Manorlands Hospice, where he died with his mum and sister at this side.

Julia said: "We were so proud to be his Mum and sister and we will miss him more than words can say and love him forever."

Mark's funeral will take place on Thursday, December 14 at 12.45 pm at Baildon Methodist Church.