FRIENDS have rallied round to support the family of a father-of-two after he died with Covid-19.

James Murphy, 33, from Shadsworth, was well known in the community and messages and tributes have flooded in since his death.

Known as Peach to his friends, James was the boyfriend of Keli Bell and father to Arthur, seven and Matilda, five.

A GoFundMe page was set up on Wednesday with a target of £10,000 with thousands of pounds flooding in just hours after its launch.

The target has now been increased to £15,000 after the original target was nearly surpassed after less than 24 hours, with the money being used support his family.

James dad, John Murphy said: "What the people are doing for my son is the thing that is getting us through these hard times.

"All I ever ask is my son's children are looked after and this money will give them that respite from everything else.

"I want them to be able to turn around to their mum and say 'I've got a dance school I want to join, can I get the money off my dad?' - so he is still involved."

The money will be split to be used to give the children presents on birthdays and at Christ which will be signed 'from Dad'. Some will be used if the children need something, like a pair of football boots.

James had Crohn's disease and after catching Covid-19, he began to get very ill and was taken into Royal Blackburn Hospital.

He died on Tuesday from full organ failure and Covid-19 and his dad John has said he hopes that James' death will make people understand the severity of the virus.

John added: "When we found out we were heartbroken.

"The heartfelt messages people are sending and the amount of money people are donating, from £1 to £1,000, it's absolutely mind-blowing.

"He is lifting me up in the saddest time of my life. As his father, all I can do is live through his kids for him."

James also leaves mother Mandy Scott, stepmother Katrina Murphy, and brother Peter Murphy, sisters Lois Duxbury and Amie Duxbury and brothers Johnathon Scott and Tyler Scott.

In a tribute to their friend, the Shad Chefs, a local community group, said: "He was one of the lads. Always there for his mates.

"Loved a laugh. Sometimes a bit too much, but who doesn't? Especially if you're from Shad. If his mate's needed him he was there. He really is going to be missed.

"Our thoughts go out to Keli and the kids. Peach's brother Peter and the rest of the family."