A HEARTBROKEN mother has paid tribute to her ‘cheeky and caring’ son after he suddenly passed away just shy of his 21st birthday.

Leonard Birtles grew up in the Linham Road area of Bridgwater, but not long after his father took his life, Leonard was diagnosed with epilepsy age 13.

He was living in Shepton Mallet at the time of his death, and his mother Diana Barrington-Scott said she had been overwhelmed the kind words people had said about Leo since his passing just over a week ago.

“There is no doubting his epilepsy made things difficult. He was a caring, cheeky boy but sometimes after a fit he could completely turn and become mean-spirited,” Diana said.

“But he worked hard with counselling and had made excellent progress, he was happy and well-liked.

“His passing was sudden. Having not heard from him for a few days, and finding he wasn’t picking up his phone, we phoned a close friend and neighbour of his.

“She went to the property and said there was no sign of life, and when she called the emergency services they found him dead in his room. His alarm telling him to take his medication was going off.

“We have had so many messages of support since, it has made a huge difference.”

Leonard, who also spent a spell living in the Cheddon Road area of Taunton, was a big fan of American cars. For his funeral, Diana shared a post on social media to see if someone had an American muscle car that might be used for the funeral, and she could not believe the response.

“The post has been seen by more than 50,000 people, and we have had more than 200 offers of help.

“It has been amazing, no-one has asked for money, they have been so kind.

“It looks like we will be able to give Leo an amazing send-off with a convoy of muscle cars.

“The post has even travelled to the United States. One person got in touch asking whereabouts in Somerset we were, thinking it was about Somerset, New Jersey!

“The support has been comforting and has meant that Leo’s funeral will really be a celebration of his life.”

Leo’s favourite colour was purple, and the family are hoping to organise a purple coffin for him for the funeral.

A fundraising page has been set up on Facebook in Leo’s memory.