TRIBUTES have poured in for a father who died suddenly after completing the Southend Half Marathon.

Nick Palmer, 37, of Shoebury Road, Great Wakering, died shortly after crossing the finish line of the Southend Half Marathon on Sunday.

The event’s medical team gave Mr Palmer emergency treatment before transferring him toamedical tent in Ness Road, Shoebury, where a senior doctor made every attempt to save his life, but he died a short while afterwards.

He leaves behind a son George, aged six, as well as a brother, Darren, and mother and father.

One of Nick’s best friends, David Walpole, said: “We were like brothers growing up, there were four of us who did everything together.

“He trained so hard and he was a fit bloke who never smoked and drank the normal amount. It’s a complete shock.

“He has done the Southend Half Marathon at least three times and had runamarathon before for Great Ormond Street Hospital.

“He was a great friend and a great father to George. I have never seen such a committed parent. Our boys are in the same class at school.

“All I can think about is his little boy. They were very similar in appearance and the memory of him will live on through George.”

Nick, who worked in IT for HM Customs and Excise in Victoria Road, Southend, was an avid Tottenham Hotspur fan and had got into running in the last few years, joining Southend Flyers running club.

He loved music and went to see Madness every Christmas in London to relive his teenage years with best friends David, Roy Barrett and Ashley Moore.

Ashley, 38, who lives in Colchester, but is formerly of High Street, Great Wakering, said: “Nick was one of my best friends for over 30 years going back to pre-school days, always making me laugh even when he was in a bad mood, always there in support and always a true friend.

“There are too many great memories to put into words, so it is easier just to say thanks for the memories mate, you'll never be forgotten and we'll raise a glass for you at Madness in December.

“You're a legend and the legend lives on with George.”

He added: “Nick would be so happy to see how many people felt so strongly about him.

“He was a grafter and kept his head down and worked hard, especially with his son, and didn’t appreciate just how many people were touched by his influence on their lives. I will miss him dearly.”

Mr Palmer took part in the 13.1mile race as a member of his running club. It is understood he had completed numerous races with the group.

ORGANISERS behind the Southend Half Marathon have reassured residents and runners that health and safety regulations were followed to the letter.

Nick Palmer died shortly after crossing the finish line of the 13.1mile race in Shoebury on Sunday.

Runners faced sweltering temperatures of 27 degrees while trying to complete the challenge.

Havens Hospices, which organised the race to boost the charity’s funds, said rigorous health and safety checks were carried out by Southend Council, as well as an adjudicator, to make sure the race was safe to take place.

A spokesman for Havens said: “There were five water stations, and with the loop in the route, there were ten opportunities to take water and wet sponges on board.

“An extensive health and safety risk assessment takes place before all Havens Hospices events.

“With this particular event, the assessment has to be submitted to Southend Council, and checked and approved by the race adjudicator.

“The Southend Half Marathon is a UK Athletics approved event.”

A spokesman for UK Athletics said: “We have made contact with the race organiser and will support them through the process over the coming days and weeks.

“It is not appropriate for us to comment further at this stage other than to express our condolences to the family.”