A DAREDEVIL whose breath-taking stunts raised thousands for charity has gone to "a bed of nails in the sky".

Stuntman Patrick Doyle, known affectionately as Gipsy Pat, lost his fight with lung cancer and died three days before Christmas. He was 81.

For 40 years the veteran fundraiser boosted the coffers of Barnado's and other good causes by performing his eye-catching acts in East Lancashire and across the UK.

His stunts famously included lying on a bed of nails. And the former Second World War RAF serviceman, of Accrington Road, Blackburn, thought nothing of having slabs of concrete broken on his chest.

His love affair with hair-raising challenges is thought to have been triggered when he helped at a circus in his native Ireland as a teenager. After leaving the airforce, he went busking in London where he developed his act.

The father-of-three moved to Blackburn in the early 60s and lived with his wife Mary until her death from cancer in 1972.

His family is expecting a big turnout at his funeral at St Joseph's RC Church, Audley, on January 4, for as well as being a familiar face through his fundraising exploits, Mr Doyle worked as a doorman for 20 years at Intack and Knuzden Conservative Club.

His daughter, Deborah Cook, 36, of Rockliffe Street, Blackburn, said he would be sorely missed.

"I think he got into the bed of nails and things in County Kilkenny, where he was originally from. He must have raised thousands over the years.

"He wasn't a particularly big man, he was 5ft 10in and of medium build. But he was a natural entertainer.

"He also used to dress as a clown and performed at my parties when I was little. He will be sadly missed, and, yes, it's fair to say he's now on a bed of nails in the sky."

Mr Doyle also leaves sons Adam, 24, and Patrick, 39, brother Tommy, sister Philomena and seven grandchildren.

His funeral service will start at 9.30am, prior to interment at Pleasington at 11am.