THE family of an inspirational teenager last night paid their own tribute to their “amazing young man” who “lit up the whole world”.

Kieran Maxwell, from Heighington, near Darlington, “gained his wings” in the early hours of Friday morning, his mother Nicola revealed, after losing a near seven year battle with cancer.

The 18-year-old lost his left leg after being diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma – a rare form of bone cancer – in October 2010.

After twice beating the disease, a chest x-ray during a routine check-up last October brought the devastating confirmation that the cancer had returned – this time spreading around his heart and lungs.

Speaking exclusively to The Northern Echo, Kieran’s family said they were “numb with grief” following the death of their “inspirational” son.

“Kieran didn’t light up the room, he lit up the whole world.

“His love of life was a joy to behold and his humour, compassion, joyfulness and cheer will live on in our hearts and minds forever.

“He suffered greatly without complaint and his courage and bravery is an inspiration to each and every one of us.

“He was an amazing young man who has been taken from us far too soon.”

The young sprinter, who won a gold medal at the Brazil Paralympic School Games in 2015 and at one stage was also national champion in gymnastics, had dreamt of competing for Great Britain in the Paralympics in Rio last year.

Despite his illness, Kieran vowed “to have as much fun as possible” throughout his short life, and memorably got the chance to carry the Olympic torch through Bishop Auckland before the London 2012 games, despite falling to the ground midway.

Tributes to the youngster flooded in once news of his death was revealed, with some of Britain’s most successful Olympians and Paralympians, as well as those who had got to know Kieran over the years, paying their respects.

Bishop Auckland gymnast Amy Tinkler, bronze medallist at last year’s Rio Olympics, joined Kieran for a Christmas carol service last year – organised so he could enjoy an early festive season after learning he had relapsed.

She tweeted: “Had an amazing night for Kieran's carol service, what an inspiration.

"Honoured to be part of it. My love goes out to everyone around you.”

Cramlington-born Paralympian Stephen Miller, who won three gold medals between 1996 and 2004, also tweeted: “Very sad to hear that Kieran Maxwell passed away.

“Very brave young man and gone far too soon - his short life should be an inspiration.”

Richard Whitehead, who won gold at both the London 2012 and Rio 2016 Olympics, said: “We are all devastated by young Kieran Maxwell’s passing. If only we all had his bravery.”

Gerald Lee, councillor for the Heighington & Coniscliffe Ward, described Kieran as an “extremely brave and courageous young man blessed with an ‘can do’ spirit”, whilst Sedgefield MP Phil Wilson said “we must all work to ensure Kieran’s legacy lives on”.