A TRAGIC dad who lost a four-year fight against heart disease has inspired a community campaign to help save other victim's lives.

At 46, devoted family man Joe Hesp had everything to live for - a loving wife Susan, two daughters Andrea and Lynn and a lively little grandson Brandon.

But he died last December two days before Brandon's third birthday after skilled heart specialists at South Cleveland Hospital finally conceded they could do no more.

The three days before his death were the worst his family had ever endured.

Susan said: "He went into hospital for another operation and we thought he would be coming home.

"In the end he went suddenly. It was a shock when they told us he would not make it and we couldn't believe we were losing him."

Joe suffered from endocarditis, which is a progressive inflammation of the inner lining of the heart and the heart valves caused, in his case, by a virus.

His family has already given £600 collected at Joe's funeral to the British Heart Foundation and is launching a month-long fundraising drive for the charity at the weekend.

Susan said: "Joe had five operations to replace his heart valves but they could not save him.

"If we can stop other families from going through what we have suffered it will be worthwhile.

"He was determined to get better but he gradually became weaker and he spent more time in hospital than at home."

The campaign opens on Saturday with a family disco and fancy dress competition at Crook Cricket Club. It starts at 7pm and costs £1 for adults and 50p for accompanied children. A fun day is being held at the club on Sunday afternoon from 1pm until to 6pm. Almost every business in Crook has donated raffle prizes.

On Sunday, August 12, 30 relatives and friends are doing a sponsored walk from Bishop Auckland to Crook and on August 18 there is a charity night at the 147 Club in Sunderland.

All the money raised will be presented to the foundation in the cricket club on September 15. More information is available from Lynn on 07790 272447.