TRIBUTES have been pouring in for a popular Sicily lecturer, originally from Winwick, who died this week.

The Facebook page Nigel Haynes Fan Club had nearly 2,000 likes in less than 24 hours after the news of his sad death spread.

The 53-year-old had died of cancer on Tuesday after spending one week in Warrington Hospital during his regular Christmas visit home.

But his shocked family said they were very proud to see so many tributes for the former Culcheth High pupil and even a campaign to put up pictures of him all over the Italian city Messina where he taught.

Mum Vera added: "Students and teachers alike absolutely adored him.

"He was very happy over there and we used to go over there to visit him and couldn't go far for friends stopping him.

"They were lovely people there and they all loved him to pieces."

Nigel was not married and had no children and was described as being 'devoted to his work' teaching English at the University of Messina.

He had lived in Sicily for more than 30 years but regularly returned home at Christmas.

Best friend Andrew Bryce added Nigel was a very kind man who 'never did anything to harm anyone'.

He added: "Everybody has got funny stories to tell about Nigel and one of the things a lot of his Italian students have been saying is he was a man with the spirit of a child, a Sicilian saying which means he remained pure at heart and not gained other peoples' prejudices.

"He was such a likeable man and was really an ambassador out there."

A tribute on Italian website Messinaora said Nigel was a 'jovial man, always helpful and cheerful, attentive to his students and a funny and passionate connoisseur of good music with an immense love for Bob Dylan'.