Tributes to Jimmy Lee Greening, Hessle Road favourite who defied doctors for 37 years
TRIBUTES have been paid to a man who lived to the age of 37, despite being given just a short time to live when he was born.
Jimmy Lee Greening, who grew up in west Hull's Hessle Road area, was born with a liver condition.
Although he was never given a full diagnosis or a name for his condition, doctors predicted he would not survive long.
As a baby, he had parasites in his bowels and he never fully recovered during adult life.
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As a result of his ill health, Jimmy had sight and hearing problems and was left with learning disabilities.
He also struggled to take in nutrients, which made him small in stature.
But despite the doctor's prognosis, Jimmy lived for 37 years, before finally losing his battle for life on March 18.
His father, Jimmy Greening, 56, said: "His death has been absolutely devastating. But I don't see it as a loss, I see it has a 37-year gain.
"We were fortunate to have him for a lot longer than we thought."
His family said Jimmy was always smiling and was very well-known in Hessle Road.
Mr Greening said: "He smiled all the time and was always laughing.
"He would talk to everyone and people around Hessle Road all knew him – he was a real character.
"His favourite saying was 'You my mate'.
"Since his death, I've been getting lots of phone calls from people I didn't know saying they knew Jimmy and wanted to pass on their sympathies."
When Jimmy was poorly as a baby, his parents Jimmy and Pearl did not think he would live very long.
When he was about 12, he went to see specialists in London, who said they did not think he would live out his teenage years.
Mr Greening said: "He didn't seem ill in himself and he would just enjoy life.
"He would ride about on his push bike and then, when his vision got worse, he had a three-wheeler bike."
Mr Greening would also take Jimmy along to Fish Trades Boxing Club, where he would play pretend fighting with Ken McKenzie and Billy and "Podge" Hall.
He also accompanied Mr Greening – a well-known rugby coach in the area – to West Hull Villa's training and games.
Mr Greening said: "He would wait outside the changing rooms and cheered as they all ran out.
"He couldn't stand on his own very well, so we would hold him up on the sidelines so he could watch.
"He cheered on his brother and shouted to all the players.
"Micky Willott and Kenny Jackson at the club always looked after him."
Jimmy went to Ganton School before joining St Anne's Special School.
In his adult life, he attended West Hull Resource Centre.
His brother Chad, 30, said: "We were very close. We used to do lots of stuff together, such as bowling, and I would take him for his haircut.
"He'd give me a cuddle and say 'I love you my brother'.
"His death was sudden. It doesn't seem real."
About three weeks before he died, Jimmy became ill and was taken to hospital.
He passed away at Castle Hill Hospital with his father by his side.
Mr Greening said: "He had his eyes closed and he held my hand.
"I gave him a kiss and then he just went."
Jimmy died from a combination of pneumonia and liver cancer, which had spread to his lungs and brain.
He leaves behind his parents, Jimmy and Pearl, and his brother and sisters, Nichola, Caroline, Chad, Jade and Jenna.
His funeral will be held on Wednesday at 10.30am at Chanterlands Crematorium.
Mourners are asked to make donations in Jimmy's name to West Hull Resource Centre.