John loses his final battle

PUBLISHED: 13:44 02 July 2008 | UPDATED: 22:00 15 June 2010

A WELL-KNOW Seaton man who campaigned for rights for disabled people has died after an ongoing battle with emphysema.

A WELL-KNOW Seaton man who campaigned for rights for disabled people has died after an ongoing battle with emphysema. John Kirtley, 64, of Meadow Road, succumbed to the progressive lung condition and died in his sleep on June 11. Despite his illness, he often made the news headlines for his work to help fellow sufferers.Only in April he was on the front page of the Herald after forcing a national bus company to introduce a policy over the use of oxygen bottles on public transport. It was then reported that doctors had given him 18 months to live.His wife, Joan, said he would be greatly missed. Over 400 people regularly visited his website - a forum and support group for emphysema sufferers --which he set up three years ago and updated daily.She said: "A lot of people have rung to send their regards. Some have been devastated as they no longer have that contact anymore or that support."He was to hold a talk a couple of weeks ago about the effects of the weather on emphysema and 198 people turned out for it - he had such an impact. The PCT also said how valuable his input was and they were sorry they didn't use it more."But she vowed she would continue to keep his website going as a tribute to him. "It's now in my name and I will keep it going. I feel it's a really important, good website and everyone who was using it before wants it to keep going."However, she holds fond memories of both her husband and his work. On the day of his funeral she said she showed the DVD of him when he appeared with Liz Dawn in ITV's Tonight programme."He will be sadly missed. But he was very ill and I'm glad he went peacefully."After the funeral friends came round and I put the DVD on. It was like he was alive again. I wanted them to see it as I thought it would be a nice way to remember him."Mr Kirtley, who struggled to breathe, because of his incurable disease, and was dependent on high levels of oxygen 24 hours a day, continually highlighted the importance of the Disability Act. After taking on Stagecoach and winning, Mr Kirtley potentially helped between 1,500 and 2.000 people in Devon who use oxygen.He believed "it's not about the numbers, it's the principle". His website is www.emphysema.copd.co.uk

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