THE family of late Ellesmere Port fundraiser Billy Birch have said they will be proud and honoured to receive an award on his behalf.

Billy knew he had been nominated for a British Citizen Award but tragically died before he found out he had won one.

Organisers called his mobile phone to share the news just days after he suffered multiple organ failure during surgery and was placed in an induced coma.

Billy died surrounded by his family, including children Mally, Neil, Stephen and Cheryl, at the Countess of Chester Hospital on Sunday, December 10, aged 76.

He had raised more than £113,000 over 26 years since losing his beloved wife Sylvia to cancer in 1991. An anonymous resident had nominated Billy for a British Citizen Award, bringing to the committee’s attention his tireless efforts for the community, local causes and charities. The nomination was then seconded by Ellesmere Port and Neston MP Justin Madders.

Mally told the Standard he and his family had been urged to speak to Billy while he was in his coma and told him he had won the award after they took the call on his phone.

“There would have been tears if he had known – he would have been absolutely over the moon,” Mally said.

“This would have meant the world to him. When he was nominated he was flabbergasted. He thought he didn’t deserve it.”

Mally said he and other family members would try to get time off work to attend the awards ceremony at the Palace of Westminster in London this July.

“Of course it will be upsetting because he should be there to collect it himself but I will also be honoured and proud to receive that award on dad’s behalf,” he said.

The British Citizen Awards are given to people who “do extraordinary things in the local community”. Patrons include the Duchess of York and TV personality Bradley Walsh.

Following Billy’s death, Mr Madders said: “He will be remembered by the people of Ellesmere Port for his tireless fundraising activities and his sense of humour. It was a great honour to unveil a plaque at the Civic Hall recognising his fundraising efforts.”