FRIENDS and family of a man who passed away after a battle against cancer say they will raise money in his name for years to come.

Steve Blake was given six months to live in October 2010 after his cancer, which started in his bowel, spread.

He defied doctors’ predictions for more than two years, but on December 4 last year Mr Blake, of Wendlebury, died aged 58 at Oxford’s Sobell House hospice.

In the 18 months before he passed away, Mr Blake had a new focus after he and former colleagues from a Bicester engineering firm set up a fundraising charity.

The group, called John Bruce and Friends, was set up after the men rekindled their friendship in 2011 at a staff reunion. The event was held to mark the 20th anniversary of the closure of Bruce Engineering, Bessemer Close, Bicester, which closed in 1991.

Mr Blake and the other members of the group – Bill Foley and Dave Powell – hosted two fundraisers to create a legacy in his name, raising £2,700. His friends have pledged to continue raising cash in Mr Blake’s memory and will be helped by his son, Andrew, who will take his father’s place as a trustee of the group.

Mr Foley, 65, of Blenheim Drive, Bicester, said: “He was an unbelievable guy. To be told you’ve got six months to live and to see the way he tried to fight it. He was always upbeat, it was only the last few days he realised he had lost the battle. He was a fantastic guy and so popular. We had known him since he was a youngster.

“The charity work was his legacy. He wanted us to carry on so we said ‘right, let’s see what we can do’. That’s why we asked Andrew to take over from his dad.”

The group raised £1,600 from a social evening last summer, which has been split between Sobell House and Cancer Research UK.

Andrew Blake, 33, of Main Street, Wendlebury, was his dad’s carer.

He said: “The friends group was extremely important to him. It gave him a focus. While he was organising the two previous events he was in his element. When dad was first diagnosed he realised how important it was that these charities got money, especially Sobell House, being charity-funded.”

The next friends’ event is a disco and buffet at Highfield Social Club, George Street, Bicester, on Friday, June 28, at 7.30pm.

Tickets are £5 from Mr Foley on 01869 244387 or Mr Powell on 01869 601373.