Published: 12:37, 10 September 2020
| Updated: 13:36, 10 September 2020
A doting uncle described as fit and healthy by loved ones, died suddenly after playing a game of football with his nephews.
Popular Gary Hills, from Herne Bay, is said to have been a keen walker who also enjoyed running along the seafront and weightlifting.
But an air ambulance was called to his sister’s home in Hampton on Monday, August 17, when the 45-year-old collapsed after complaining of feeling unwell.
Niece Marianne Ongley said: “He was playing football with my little brothers.
“He said he didn’t feel well, so I got him a glass of water and then my brother came up to me and said Gary wasn’t breathing.
“There were ambulances, an air ambulance and a critical care team. Everyone was shocked because he was so healthy. It was so sudden.
“He was the best person in the world.”
Gary had suffered a heart attack and was pronounced dead at the scene after paramedics arrived.
The loving family man spent much of his childhood moving between several towns across Kent, including Rainham and Gillingham, due to the demands of his father’s job in the Navy.
During the pandemic, Gary had been working as a delivery driver for the Sainsbury’s superstore in Altira Business Park, Broomfield.
“Gary would light up the room as he’d walk into it,” Marianne, 18, continued.
“He was always smiling and joking around with everyone. He was just happy-go-lucky.
“If he saw you were upset or in a bad mood, he would try to cheer you up.
“He would always try to make everyone laugh.
“He smoked, but he was really healthy.
“I just want people to get regular health checks, even if it’s for a little ache or pain.”
Gary’s funeral is due to take place at Thanet Crematorium on Friday.
His family has launched a fundraiser to help them stump up the cash needed for the ceremony, which will only be attended by 15 close friends and family.
To donate, click here .