TRIBUTES have been paid to a Billington grandfather who died after contracting a deadly disease.

Steve Whitehead, 59, was diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease after collapsing following a holiday abroad.

His widow, Sue, yesterday described the IT specialist as being ‘adored by everybody’.

A keen traveller, Mr Whitehead and his wife visited Malta in November. Shortly after arriving home, in Weavers Croft, Mr Whitehead fell ill.

Mrs Whitehead said: “He started to feel ill on the Wednesday, and on the Sunday he collapsed and went downhill fast.”

After being treated in Royal Blackburn Hospital’s intensive care unit, Mr Whitehead was taken to Wythenshaw Hospital.

Mrs Whitehead said: “He needed to be in a comatose state due to his treatments.”

Despite the best efforts of doctors, who used specialist machinery in a bid to save Mr Whitehead’s life, he died on January 6, a month before his 60th birthday.

It is believed Mr Whitehead contracted Legionnaires’ disease, a form of pneumonia caused by bacteria, while abroad.

Mrs Whitehead said she would be looking for answers.

Senior environmental health officer for Ribble Valley Council Eamonn Roberts said a ‘full, detailed investigation’ of Mr Whitehead’s illness had been done, to ‘pinpoint where he acquired the infection’. He added: “We do not believe he became infected locally.”

Mrs Whitehead said: “The environmental person came here and we spoke in great detail about where we had been and what we had done.

“We presumed the disease came from abroad. I have a phone number to ring, but because of the funeral and everything, I have not done it yet. I would like to know what happens, and if anything will come from this.”

Originally from Reedley, Mr Whitehead moved to the Ribble Valley around 20 years ago.

He worked for Geek Squad in Preston and was obsessed with technology.

Mrs Whitehead said: “He was into music to the point where he had surround sound, and he had gadgets for everything.”

Mr Whitehead also helped to walk guide dog puppies with Sue, who said they were ‘planning retirement’ and ‘loved just chilling’. They married on a beach in St Lucia in 1997. Mr Whitehead is also survived by two children, Joanna and Paul, two step-children, Laura and Michael, and six grandchildren.