THE family of a 35-year-old welder have paid tribute to a funny, loving, caring son and step-dad.

Damian ‘Damo’ Hennefer died just before Christmas on December 22, five days after a family party.

Mr Hennefer became unconscious after drinking at the party and turned blue in his wife’s arms. He was taken to hospital, but died later of a chest infection.

Widow, Karen Hennefer, aged 34, said: “We were childhood sweethearts and I met him when I was 15 or 16. He was 17. He couldn’t drive and his brother used to bring me down to him and his mum would take me home. We split up and went our separate ways. I had three children by someone else and it went wrong. I was on my own and I met Damian again, he was on his own, we always stayed in touch.”

The pair got back together in March, 2013 and married in October, 2015.

Mrs Hennefer described him as a ‘brilliant dad’ to her three children, Kayleigh, aged 17, Tegan, aged 14 and Jack, aged 11 and said they had been trying for their own baby. She said it had been a ‘fairy tale’.

Mr Hennefer was born in Bolton, he worked with his brother Geoff at Chorley Street Garage before striking out on his own. He ran Auto Weld Bolton in Kirkebrok Road, Deane which he opened in January, 2016.

Mrs Hennefer said he was passionate about cars, especially Fords, and was always working on something new. His mother, Pam Hennefer, aged 65, said he got his love of Ford cars from his father.

She said one of her favourite memories of her son was when he was aged about eight. She said: “I was in the kitchen and I turned around. He said ‘Happy Mother’s Day mum’ and there was a big white cat on the rug.

“He loved cats and would say he was going to have 40!

“I said ‘who’s cat is that?’ and he said ‘I found it! He was so pleased with himself. I made him return it.”

Both Mr Hennefer’s wife and mother called him ‘loving and caring’ and said he had a ‘heart of gold’ and would do anything for anyone.

Mr Hennefer’s funeral has not yet been organised but Mrs Hennefer expects hundreds of people to attend.

At the opening of an inquest into his death yesterday, Bolton Coroner’s Court heard how Mr Hennefer had consumed 14 cans of lager and half a bottle of spirits on Sunday, December 17. He began to vomit and stopped breathing. His wife did CPR until the ambulance arrived and took him to the Royal Albert Edward Infirmary in Wigan.

The court heard how Mr Hennefer, of Broom Avenue, Leigh, died on December 22 at the hospital of a chest infection, lack of oxygen to the brain and breathing difficulties related to alcohol consumption.

Mr Hennefer’s inquest will resume on Thursday, April 12.