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Model Canterbury student Tom O'Sullivan, from Whitstable, dies days after his 23rd birthday following battle against brain tumour

A model student who achieved straight A exam results despite two operations to battle brain cancer has been described as an inspiration following his death days after his 23rd birthday.

Tom O’Sullivan, of Grasmere Park, Chestfield, was just 18 when he was diagnosed with an inoperable tumour, discovered when he suffered severe headaches.

The heartbreaking news was delivered to Tom as he prepared to sit his A-Level exams before following his brother and sister to university.

Tom was diagnosed with a brain tumour when he was 18
Tom was diagnosed with a brain tumour when he was 18

But despite his illness, he achieved two A* grades and an A even after two operations during his revision period.

The remarkable set of results earned him a place at Bristol University to study engineering.

This year he was given the Student in a Million Inner Strength award for his incredible resolve to continue his studies while battling a terminal disease.

His dad John described him as a popular young man who remained strong throughout his battle with cancer while friends and family struggled.

He said: “Tom never complained, he had a tremendous spirit and always stayed positive even when the family was falling apart.

“He had a great circle of friends in Whitstable, Canterbury and at university. It was him who used to user to cheer them up, he always remained great fun.

“We are all very proud of him, he touched the hearts of a lot of people.”

Tom's friends and siblings will take part in a Tough Mudder event to raise money for Pilgrims Hospice
Tom's friends and siblings will take part in a Tough Mudder event to raise money for Pilgrims Hospice

Born in Germany, Tom moved to Whitstable in 2003 with dad John, mum Jackie, brother Jack, 26, and sister Ellen, 24, before enrolling at Simon Langton Boys.

This month, his siblings and Tom’s close friends will take part in Tough Mudder in Winchester to raise money for Pilgrim’s Hospice in his memory.

Ellen said: “We are so, so proud of him. We grew up together and got on very well.

"We have been overwhelmed by how many people have reached out to us, people we didn’t know he was friends with.

“He never complained and always gave his time to everybody. He really was very special, I’m lucky to call him my little brother.”

Tom (middle) with sister Ellen and brother Jack
Tom (middle) with sister Ellen and brother Jack

For eight years Tom trained at the Whitstable Shotokan Karate Club under his instructor Chris Syrett where he gained a brown belt.

But a week before his death, the club presented Tom with an honorary black belt for his “spirit and determination” shown over the years.

Chris said: “He was an absolute pleasure to teach, he never let his illness hold him back. It never compromised his enjoyment.

“Presenting him with the black belt was an emotional moment, it was the least I could do.

“The club is a family and I have no doubt he was on track to achieve it with his spirit and determination. He will be remembered for ever.”

He died on Thursday, September 11 and his funeral was held at Lady Immaculate Church on Friday, September 19 - with more than 250 mourners in attendance.

To donate towards the fundraising effort click here.

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