FAMILY and friends are mourning the loss of the ‘amazing and inspirational man’ who was a driving force behind Winchester Hospice’s fundraising campaign.

Mike Bridge died on April 26 at his Winchester home after a battle with cancer – one where his “positivity and determination shone through as he defied the odds and made the most of every day”.

Mike, who was 59, was a Winchester Hospice ambassador and was one of the champions of the fundraising campaign to convert Burrell House, on the Royal Hampshire County Hospital site in Winchester, into a 10-bed hospice.

Those who knew him have said that he was the heartbeat ‘I Love Winchester Hospice’ which was an online auction and entertainment event in February and raised more than Mike’s target of £25,000.

Paying tribute to her husband, Mike’s wife Dawn said: “Mike was a loving husband, father, friend and colleague, who will be missed very much by everyone who knew him.

“Mike was a larger than life character who loved life and he grabbed it with both hands. He was always so positive and was such a can-do person. He was full of fun, and one of those people who once you met him, he was never forgotten."

Mike had a long and successful career in the insurance industry, rising through the ranks to become regional sales director at Lombard Insurance Company.

He and Dawn loved making a family home in Winchester, where they and their three children – Sophie, Sam and James – have lived for more than 20 years.

Dawn continued: “Mike loved being a dad, and while he always worked long hours, he enjoyed the family time that he had at weekends and on holidays.”

She added: “When he was diagnosed with oesophageal cancer, he was determined to fight it, and he did. And when he got involved in the Winchester Hospice campaign, he wanted to do everything he could to help and support it. He thoroughly enjoyed getting involved and wanted to make a difference.”

A keen Arsenal fan, Mike loved sport, and he was one of the key figures behind the Winchester Hospice Annual Charity Golf Day – encouraging his many friends from the business world to get involved and support the charity.

Mike also made a moving and memorable contribution in a promotional film which raised greater awareness of, and funds for, the Winchester Hospice fundraising campaign.

Known for being meticulous, Mike planned every detail of his funeral, which will take place on Friday, May 21 at Chesil House. Also typical of his kindness and generosity, he has asked for any donations to be given to Winchester Hospice Fundraising Charity through

Paying tribute, Nick Vaughan, chairman of Winchester Hospice Fundraising Charity, said: “Everyone involved in the charity sends our condolences to Dawn and her family, and they are in our thoughts at this sad time.

“Mike was a wonderful and inspirational Winchester Hospice Ambassador. Like everyone who had the pleasure and privilege of knowing Mike, those of us involved in the charity were touched by his passion, enthusiasm, kindness and generosity.

“He has left a legacy by making such a difference to the campaign to create the hospice. While everyone is deeply sad that he will not be here to see it open this year, he will be with us in spirit and in our thoughts.”