A north-east mum today paid tribute to her son after he passed away from cystic fibrosis at the age of 30.
Ben Gray was relaxing at his Laurencekirk home on the afternoon of September 29 when he suffered breathing problems and called his mother Isabel Addison, who alerted 999.
However, Ben sadly died before paramedics could save him.
Isabel described her son as a football-loving computer whizz who never did anything by half measures.
She said: “Whatever Ben set his mind to he accomplished. Since he died I am discovering just how popular he was, with lots of messages from his friends. I am so proud of him.”
Ben was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis – a genetic condition affecting the lungs – when he was aged two and was told he wouldn’t live beyond 19.
He had frequent trips to Royal Aberdeen Children’s Hospital and, as an adult, Aberdeen Royal Infirmary.
As a boy, he attended Broomhill Primary School and Harlaw Academy, where he developed a skill in computers – a talent he built a career upon.
After enrolling on an information computer technology course at Aberdeen College, Ben got a job as a service desk analyst at Talisman Energy in 2010.
He worked in IT for companies including Weatherford Oil and Energy, the Wood Group and CGI.
Ben spent three years working as an IT systems engineer at Dundee Council before taking up a role in IT at Cegal in January.
One of Ben’s early passions was Aberdeen Football Club. He was a season ticket holder at Pittodrie for many years.
Another of his great loves was music.
Isabel, 56, said: “He loved listening to 1970s rock and has travelled to Manchester and Glasgow to watch bands like Rainbow and Motorhead in concert.
“He also enjoyed listening to bands like Deep Purple and Thin Lizzy and loved nothing more than playing his Fender guitar.
“Ben had recently formed a band which met each week at Captain Toms rehearsal space in Aberdeen.
“He had been taking lessons from a guitarist called Andy Watson for seven years and the two became friends.”
When Ben’s funeral takes place at Baldarroch Crematorium in Crathes at 1pm tomorrow, his coffin will be painted in the colours of Aberdeen FC and will have his guitar on top.
Within the last few months, Ben had taken up cooking – pizza was his favourite food – and he was keen to try new things, including carpentry.
Isabel recalls him loving ten-pin bowling as a child and going on a ski-ing trip in the Italian Alps aged 15 and excelling on the slopes.
“There were no half measures with Ben. Once he was committed to something, he would achieve it,” said Isabel.
She added: “The best thing about Ben is that he didn’t let his condition rule him.
“He never said ‘why me?’ or ‘it’s not fair’ – he just got on with it. He knew he wasn’t going to have a long life but he wanted to have a good one.
“On the day he died, he called me about 2.10pm and couldn’t speak properly, but he managed to say ‘I can’t breathe’.
“I tried to get him help but it was too late. He died on the phone to me.
“The thing I am grateful for is that he didn’t suffer a slow decline with his illness, which would have been hard for him.”
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Ben’s grandmother Betty Addison passed away close to Christmas time when he was aged seven and that took the magic away from the festive season for him, said Isabel.
As a result, Ben was planning on getting away from Christmas by spending it with his friend Fraser Campbell in Morocco.
Isabel said: “He had also planned to go with his dad, Douglas Gray, to watch the Australian Pink Floyd in November.”
She added: “Ben’s humour was very dry. We described him as a Jack Dee character. He was quite stoic but had the ability to give me a belly laugh like nobody else could.”
Ben also leaves his auntie Maggie Forest, his uncle Gavin Forest, grandmother Rose Gray and step father Denis Lockhart.
Other members of his close family include his late uncle Alan Addison and his late grandmother Betty Addison.
Those attending his funeral have been asked not to bring flowers and to instead donate to the Cystic Fibrosis Trust.
Isabel also paid tribute to Aberdeen Royal Infirmdary’s cystic fibrosis team.
She said: “They are second to none. We are very fortunate to have them in Aberdeen.”