Lowestoft man loses fight against cancer after raising thousands for good causes

PUBLISHED: 16:29 30 August 2012 | UPDATED: 17:10 30 August 2012

Dean Lawson  with friends Shaun Underdown and Gemma Searby.

Dean Lawson with friends Shaun Underdown and Gemma Searby.

© Archant 2012

An inspirational Lowestoft man who courageously battled a rare form of cancer to raise thousands of pounds for charity has died at the age of 37.

Dean Lawson, known to his friends as Carl, died in the early hours on Sunday at the Mariner’s Rest pub in Rotterdam Road, which is run by his close friend Shaun Underdown.

In March, Mr Lawson was told by doctors that he only had “single figure months” to live.

But the former welder, who previously lived in Stanford Street, Lowestoft, directed all of his efforts into helping others by setting up the Carl charity, which stands for Care and Real Lovin’.

In June, he organised the Carlfest, a five-day music festival with 20 acts at the Mariner’s Rest, and he also helped to set up a fund-raising garden sale and pub quiz.

At the time of his death, at least £10,000 had been raised by Carl with £5,000 going to a hospice appeal.

Mr Lawson’s funeral service is due to be held on Wednesday at 1.15pm at St Margaret’s Church in Lowestoft and people are being encouraged to wear bright colours to celebrate his life.

In line with his final wish, a band will perform in the garden of the Mariner’s Rest after his funeral and a hog roast will be held for his friends.

Paying tribute to Mr Lawson, an emotional Mr Underdown said: “I wish I was just half the man he was. I feel I have got an empty void by me. He was good man. Obviously my thoughts go out to his parents.”

As one of the four trustees of the Carl charity, Mr Underdown pledged to continue fund-raising as a tribute to his friend and said he would also create a memorial garden at the pub.

Mr Lawson hailed from the Middlesbrough area and worked at the Bird’s Eye factory Lowestoft after moving to the town.

He was diagnosed with cancer in 2009, and this was later identified as Ewing’s sarcoma, a rare form of the disease in which cancer cells are found in the bone or soft tissue.

The diagnosis led to Mr Lawson undergoing a rare operation in December 2010 at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. It was so unusual that his surgeon Wyn Parry had to practice on a cadaver as he had not seen a similar case in his 20-year career as a chest surgeon.

Mr Lawson become friends with Mr Underdown and his partner Gemma Searby shortly after his diagnosis.

He went on to work behind the bar of the Mariner’s Rest, becoming popular with customers, and even started supporting Tottenham Hotspur Football Club because of Mr Underdown’s allegiance to the team.

He had moved into the pub several weeks before his death.

● Money raised by the Carl charity will benefit a number of good causes, including people who require help through serious illness or a disability. To contact the charity, email

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