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Family pay touching tribute to Sprowston man who was “one in a million”

PUBLISHED: 11:33 16 April 2014

Sam O'Leary. Pic Submitted.

Sam O'Leary. Pic Submitted.


The devastated mother of a much-loved Sprowston man has told how he was the “happiest he had ever been” before he lost his life in a crash.

A funeral service is being held tomorrow for Sam O’Leary, 21, who died after the car he was driving crashed into a garden wall on Wroxham Road.

Emotional tributes to Mr O’Leary, from Clover Road, were left at the scene, between the Brickmakers roundabout and Fairstead Road, within hours of the crash happening at about 11.15pm on March 28.

And on the eve of the funeral his family, including his mother, Donna Holmes, 41, have spoken about Sam, who has been described as being “one in a million” – a phrase which is to be etched on to his memorial stone.

Mrs Holmes – who lives with her husband, Simon, 37; Sam’s brothers Vic, 18, Ryan, six, sister Kelly, 11, and dog Benny – said: “He was such a happy-go-lucky guy. He was there for everyone and if he could help he would. He was very selfless.

“He was brilliant and such a good brother. He took both the little ones to see the Lego movie... He was just so caring and didn’t have a bad bone in his body.”

The former Sprowston High School pupil, who had worked for Masterseal specialist builder in Acle since July 2012, and was due to start an apprenticeship, had been with his girlfriend Leila, 22, for about a month before he died.

Mrs Holmes said: “It’s the happiest he’s been. He was always a happy lad but he had everything going for him – he loved his work and was doing really well and got the girl he wanted for a long, long time.”

Mr O’Leary, a Liverpool fan who also loved his Renault Clio car, had a “busy social life” and was a regular at the Maids Head pub in Old Catton, where the wake is to be held.

Mrs Holmes said she was still “waiting for him to come through the door” and recalled the moment she was told by police what happened.

She said: “They told us and life just stopped at that moment – you just can’t explain the feeling. It’s something you never want to hear. It’s a nightmare and we’re still living it.”

Mrs Holmes, who has found comfort in visiting her son every day at John Brown funeral directors on North Walsham Road where his body is being held, said she was so grateful to his friends and her family for their help and support.

She said: “Sam’s friends have been amazing. We couldn’t have done it without them. One of his friends has written a song for Sam and we’re having it played at the funeral. Another has written a poem – they’ve been absolutely brilliant.”

After leaving school Mr O’Leary worked with his dad, Matthew Aldous, 41, a kitchen fitter, while also studying carpentry and joinery at Norwich City College – although he never completed it after breaking his thumb and then his elbow just days later.

Incidents like these were not uncommon for the “accident prone” Mr O’Leary who once had a car he was working on fall on him and who last year broke his back after he fell off a ladder at work.

But the injuries he suffered, which resulted in him being in a wheelchair for a time, did not stop him going to see one of his favourite bands – Public Enemy – at the UEA.

Mrs Holmes said: “They pulled him up on stage because he couldn’t really see. He’s still got the drum sticks they gave him in his room.”

The funeral service is at St Faiths Crematorium tomorrow at 2.45pm with a wake to follow at the Maids Head pub.

The family have asked people to wear something purple to the service, at which collections will be made for Nelson’s Journey and Brake charities.

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