TRIBUTES have been paid to a much-loved taxi driver who tragically lost his battle with liver cancer after his transplant was delayed due to Covid-19.

Kristian Gunn, known as “Gunny”, has been described as the “ultimate prankster” and consistently put smiles on people’s faces during his 35 years with AC Radio Cabs.

Even after his diagnosis in late 2019, the 60-year-old remained a fighter and survived just over two months longer than expected.

Mr Gunn, from Westcliff, was given a prognosis of three weeks in February before he died at Havens Hospices on May 5.

His son, Andy Gunn, said: “Dad had been ill for so long and in the end he had no quality of life, so we’re glad he’s not in pain anymore.

“Unfortunately the pandemic didn’t help, he was on the waiting list for a liver transplant but everything was getting cancelled. When they could resume it was too far gone to have the operation where the cancer had gotten so much worse.

“Before that he had two other opportunities, but both times he was on the table ready and there was no match. It’s really sad, he possibly could’ve got it if it wasn’t for the pandemic but we’ll never know.”

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Mr Gunn helped raise thousands of pounds for charity each year, with his latest feat seeing him raise £5,000 for Macmillan Cancer Support.

He also helped take disadvantaged children on trips, dressing his taxi in balloons to make the journeys special.

He leaves behind two children, Andy and Sam, along with six grandchildren.

Andy, 46, added: “Dad was the life and soul of the party and forever made people laugh, he gave everyone a nickname.

“He was with my mum Lyn for 39 years and so much of what I’ve learnt is from him.”

Stephen Noakes, general manager at AC Radio Cabs, added: “I have known Kris since I was a boy. He always reminded me of Buster Bloodvessel from the band Bad Manners.

“Ever since I have known him he has used his personality to help others. When Kris came round with the raffle tickets he never took a no for an answer.

“He was a driver on AC334455 for decades and was always a hit, his passing will be a great loss. My thoughts are with Andy, who followed his father’s footsteps, and the rest of the family.”

The family have thanked nurse Emma Brown, Dr Shaw from Highlands Surgery and Havens.