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Saints fan Nick Biddlecombe from Totton given a minute's applause at match after sudden death aged 39

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TRIBUTES have been paid to a Totton man who broke his neck leaping into the sea as a teenager and went on to campaign to stop other youngsters sharing the same fate.

Nick Biddlecombe, who was a lifelong Southampton FC fan, was honoured with a minute’s applause at Saturday’s match at St Mary’s following his sudden death at home aged 39.

Nick was paralysed in 2000 aged just 17 while tombstoning – jumping from a height into water – with friends at Lepe beach.

Nick Biddlecombe, pictured with his nieces, died last week aged 39
Nick Biddlecombe, pictured with his nieces, died last week aged 39

Following the accident he became a safety campaigner and gave numerous interviews over the years, including one on ITV’s This Morning programme.

His brother Jon told the A&T: “He was keen for others to not go through what he had. He was also an advocate for the Saints disabled supporters’ association.”

He added: “He was a legend – he was my best mate. Growing up as kids we argued, but we became really close after his accident and would talk every day.

“He was such a positive person and so generous – he was always thinking of other people.

“He idolised his nieces and had two stepchildren, which he took on as his own. He also had a granddaughter who he idolised.”

Season ticket holder Nick was a familiar face at Saints’ ground with his fiancé Julie, and was well known on social media and football forums for his love of the game.

A round of applause was organised ahead of Saturday’s match against Chelsea FC during the 83rd minute of the game – to mark the year he was born.

A tribute to Nick was also projected onto the stadium’s big screens.

Jon added: “Southampton Football Club did him proud. We had members of our extended family there and they said it was lovely.”

After his accident Nick spent six months in intensive care and a year at a spinal rehab centre.

He was initially given just a 5% chance of survival before undergoing a lengthy operation to repair his neck.

Speaking at the time, he said he had been at the beach with friends when he jumped head-first from a height of up to three feet.

He said: “I hit my head on the bottom and broke my neck. I blacked out and came to under the water.

“I was looking around, trying to swim to the top and suddenly realised my arms weren’t working at all.

“I blacked out again and woke up in hospital six weeks later.”

He added: “I just want to stop anyone going through what I went through – it was awful.”

A service to celebrate Nick’s life will be held on Friday 6th May at Test Valley Crematorium at 1.45pm.

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