The family of a mum who lost her battle against cancer have spoken of her ‘immense bravery’ throughout her illness.

Suriya Begum Ali Asghar, of Snow Street, Blackburn, died aged 69 on Boxing Day, 11 years since she was diagnosed with cancer.

Born in Pakistan, Suriya came to the UK in 1974 and set about helping other women in her community who were finding it difficult to assimilate into the country.

She became well-known in Bastwell for interacting with both children and elders and assisting where possible.

She was diagnosed with breast cancer in August 2009, had radiotherapy and went into remission until 2016. In 2016 the cancer returned and she had chemotherapy, radiotherapy and various invasive treatments. Due to Covid, her recent treatment was put on hold, which the family said contributed to the decline of her health.

The family said: “During her treatment she remained positive and extremely brave. She never lost hope even until the very end.

“Her faith helped her throughout her treatment, where she continued praying five times per day. She even managed to perform Hajj (annual Islamic pilgrimage) with her husband and then later Umrah )another pilgrimage' with her son and granddaughter.

“She remained in high spirits and despite the pain she endured, she never stopped smiling. She did not let cancer stop her from what she loved doing and she continued long walks in the park and caring for her grandchildren, whom she loved so dearly.”

Her husband Raja Ali Asghar is a well-known community figure who is involved in local politics, the PWA (Pakistan Welfare Association) and mosque organisations. Suriya was very supportive of her husband’s efforts to assist the community and was a major influence on his life.

The family added: “Suriya was a much-loved wife, mother, grandmother, sister and auntie. Everyone who was lucky enough to meet her, instantly fell in love with her personality and her smile. She was an active member of the community, always going out of her way to help others.

“She doted on her children and grandchildren and was the best mother and grandmother. She has left a void in our lives, one which cannot be filled.

“She still had so much life left but unfortunately she lost her battle with cancer. We will miss her dearly. Due to COVID restrictions, many people were unable to pay their respects and attend the funeral but we greatly appreciate all the messages of support and prayers we have received. We would also like to thank the NHS for the excellent care we have received over the past decade.”

Suriya is survived by her two sons, three daughters and 15 grandchildren.