Family and friends remember former Bishop's Stortford schoolboy Darren Briscoe who died in Spain aged 53
A former Bishop's Stortford schoolboy remembered as "one of a kind" by his family and friends has died aged just 53.
Darren Briscoe suffered a series of strokes and contracted pneumonia while staying with his mother, Joan Akhurst, at her home in Purias in Spain. He died in hospital in the Spanish city of Lorca on August 25.
Darren, who had heart problems and diabetes for several years, was renowned for being "the life and soul of the party".
Born in Singapore while his father was serving in the Royal Navy, Darren and brother Nick moved to Bishop's Stortford in 1975 with their parents when dad Paul started work at Stansted Airport and mum Joan began teaching history at St Mary's Catholic School, Windhill.
He was enrolled at St Joseph's Catholic Primary School in Great Hadham Road and then attended The Bishop's Stortford High School in London Road.
Further education followed at Harlow College before his passion for music, film and travel secured him jobs at Discus Music, which operated in Bridge Street, and he became the manager at cinemas in Bishop's Stortford and Oxford.
He also worked at Stansted Airport and for the BBC before moving to the United States in 2012.
He met his Californian wife, Shannon, online in 2011 playing Lexulous, a word game, on Facebook and romance blossomed. After an initial visit to America, he relocated permanently in 2012.
The couple married in April the next year, sharing their home with cat Moses, who he adored.
Shannon said: "Darren and I had many years of happiness together going to concerts, listening to our records and dancing in our living room and kitchen.
"We enjoyed cooking together and we watched Jeopardy every night and it was a competition."
As a lifelong Tottenham Hotspur fan, Darren shared his love of football and English tea with his American wife.
She said: "He will be greatly missed. He was one of a kind."
Brother Nick, a construction manager from Stansted, said: "He loved music, especially David Bowie, watching Doctor Who, quizzes, Tottenham Hotspur and reading.
"He was the life and soul of the party, intelligent, sharp-witted, well loved. He will be greatly missed and never forgotten."
Lifelong friend Mickey Pratt added: “Darren was like Marmite, you loved his cheeky ways or you hated him. But deep down, I knew there was a kind, caring and at times sensitive guy. He lived hard, he was stubborn, but he was our Darren.”
Jane Wilkinson, a fellow pupil at St Joseph's who remained in contact with Darren throughout his life, remembered him as the mischievous class joker. "Darren and I got the ruler together in Mrs O’Hagan's class for pinging elastic bands at each other – he started it!"
Darren was cremated in Spain on August 27. Nick and Joan have asked for donations in his memory to the British Heart Foundation.