A grieving family have thanked kind-hearted donors for helping them to raise £20,000 so they can bring home their loved one after he died suddenly in Italy.
Lorry driver Paul Stanyard was found dead in his truck in Ancona by Italian police on July 31, 2016.
The 59-year-old, who was born in Horbury, had been resting in his lorry before transporting goods to Greece.
Mr Stanyard’s company Matthews International Transport said it did not have insurance to cover the cost of repatriating his body because he died of natural causes, rather than through accident or injury.
And, fearing he would be “buried in a pauper’s grave” abroad, Mr Stanyard’s family, including partner of 26 years Pam Hirst and stepsons Carl and Aarron, set about raising money to bring him back to his hometown.
Speaking to The Express after creating an online fundraising page last week, Ms Hirst said: “I want him back home so his family and friends can see him. I’m just upset that he is laid there in a morgue on his own in Italy.”
The 59-year-old, who lives in Spain, said her family were left “shocked and devastated” by the death, which came just seven weeks after Mr Stanyard passed his latest driving medical test.
Ms Hirst said: “I have been crying and frustrated. With having to sort all this out, we haven’t yet even been able to grieve for Paul properly.”
More than 1,600 people backed the fundraising drive for Mr Stanyard. And £23,000 was donated to his cause in just seven days.
His family now hope to have him back in England within the next week.
Ms Hirst said: “Some of Paul’s family live in Wakefield and that is where he was born.
“We could have done a funeral for him in Italy, but no one would have been there for him. We are just so overwhelmed. Thank you everybody from the bottom of our hearts for helping us to get Paul home.”
Ms Hirst said her partner had been a lorry driver since the age of 21 and “lived in his truck”, travelling across Europe.
He would stay with her in Spain on holidays from work and she was looking forward to spending time with him when he next visited in November. “We had a lot of plans. It’s a big shock,” she said.
The family hope to hold a funeral service for Mr Stanyard at St Peter’s Church in Horbury, before taking him to Kettlethorpe Crematorium.
A spokesman for Matthews Transport said: “We have offered to fly the family out to Italy.
“We have also offered £5,000 to assist in repatriation. We understand that the average cost of repatriation is £3,800 and we have not been supplied with any invoices or documentation setting out the cost of repatriating Paul.
“We have asked that the family make contact with our managing director and provided them with his direct office line. We have not received a reply.”