Family pays tribute to South Shields man after death in the Philippines

Stephen Kerry-Jones, from South Shields, died in the Philippines on 30 January. Credit: NCJMEDIA SYNDICATION

The family of a former British Army sergeant who has died in the Philipines say they cannot afford to bring him home.

Stephen Kerry-Jones died of multiple organ failure at Novaliches General Hospital in Manila on Monday 30 January.

The 58-year-old had been in the country visiting his partner of 10 years, Carol Ann Del Rosario, when he became unwell.

His four children, Barry Atkinson, Daniel Kerry-Jones, Philip Cole, and Christyann Kerry-Jones, were unable to see him before he died but said they were able to speak to him on the phone before he went into hospital.

They paid tribute to the "amazing" dad and grandad-of-eight and are appealing for help for donations so they can bring his ashes back to the UK.

Mr Atkinson, 29, said "He was amazing. He was very funny and had a mint sense of humour.

"He met his partner Carol online 10 years ago. She is an English teacher in the Philippines and he would go over there to see her. He absolutely adored her."

He added: "He used to love badminton and squash and used to like hill walking. He absolutely loved golf.

"He had two Dobermans that he absolutely loved and would take them out all the time."

Stephen Kerry-Jones served in the Army for 10 years. Credit: NCJ Media Syndication

Mr Kerry-Jones, from South Shields, served in the Army for 19 years, completing 14 deployment tours including the Gulf War and Northern Ireland.

After leaving the Army, he spent a decade working for Northumbria Police as a telephone operator before he retired, and was also a foster carer.

Mr Atkinson said he contacted the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) in the days before his dad's death and asked for help to fly him to the UK so he could pass away at home. The family says they also asked for help from the Government to bring his body home after his death but were unable to get assistance on both occasions.

He said: "We are going to have to get him cremated over there and get a flight over to collect ashes and bring him back. That's what it has come to because the Government wouldn't help at all. It is absolutely ridiculous.

"They only offered to check on his condition in the hospital. He has served his country - he has been in the Gulf War and has been in Northern Ireland.

"He has lost friends serving his country and his country can't even bring his body back."The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) said it cannot pay for medical repatriation or medical evacuation but said they are supporting the family.

An FCDO spokeswoman said: “We are supporting the family of a British man who has died in the Philippines.”

An online crowdfunding page has been set up by the family to try and bring Mr Kerry-Jones's ashes back to the UK.

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To know...