THE family of Mohammed Shafiq have spoken of their loss and paid tribute to the 'best dad in the world'.

Relatives as far as America, Denmark and Canada have travelled to the family home in York Street, Nelson, to pay their respects to Mr Shafiq.

Mr Shafiq, who also has family in the UK from Manchester and Blackburn, was born in Gujarat, Pakistan.

He moved to England at the age of three with his family.

During his life he worked as a taxi driver and latterly as a building contractor.

Wife Shagufta Shafiq, 38, who married Mohammed in Pakistan in 1986 before moving to the UK two years later, said: "He was a good man, a good father and a husband.

"It is a big loss. He would do anything for anyone."

Daughter Komal Shafiq, 16, said: "There was no other father like him.

"He always wanted us to stick together."

His daughter from his first marriage, Afshaa Shafiq, 30, who lives in Denmark but was born in Nelson, said: "It is a really big loss to the whole family.

"I was supposed to visit my father on March 16, but nobody knew this was going to happen.

"I never had contact with my father until eight years ago.

"After my son was born, I got in touch.

"I found he was the best father. The best man in the whole wide world.

"He always wanted all of us to be together.

"All his life he did things for us.

"We want the person who did this to get punished.

"He used to help people all the time with all sorts of things."

His cousin Mohammed Attique, 41, of Reedley, said he was at Mr Shafiq's bedside when he died in the Royal Blackburn Hospital.

Mr Attique said: "He was a really nice, happy man who really cared for his family.

"Obviously his family are very distraught at this time and hopefully we will find out what happened in the park.

"He will be greatly missed by everyone who knew him."

Family friend Shokat Malik, 42, of Burnley, said Mr Shafiq was "a happy soul, a happy character".

He said: "He got on with everybody. He was a well-integrated member of society and the comm-unity.

"He was a devoted family man and general good guy.

"It's a sad loss to the family, who are just devastated.

"He is going to be irreplaceable.

"It's the manner in which he was taken away.

"It's just shocking."

Neighbour Mohammed Ibrar told how Mr Shafiq had saved the lives of two of his daughters.

Mr Ibrar, of York Street, Nelson, said his kitchen caught fire in the early hours one morning in 2004, trapping his two daughters upstairs.

Mr Shafiq was first beaten back by the flames and unsuccessfully attempted to find a ladder to rescue the girls.

In the end Mr Ibrar said his neighbour threw a mattress on the floor, enabling his daughters to jump to safety.

Mr Ibrar, a taxi driver who had known Mr Shafiq for 15 years, said: "He was a really good man.

"He saved my daughters' lives.

"I am very sad at what has happened to him.

"We were very good friends, almost like brothers.

"We will always remember him as a good, loyal family man."

Shazeen Khan, 24, was one of the daughters rescued from the fire and she said: "It's so sad to hear about his death especially when he saved our lives.

"He was a good father and a loyal family man who will be missed."

Safir Wahid, 51, of Barkerhouse Road, Nelson, said he had known Mr Shafiq for a long time.

Mr Wahid said: "He was a very nice person.

"I often spoke to him when I came to visit my brother who lives next door.

"It's just so sad and shocking to hear about his death and you can only pray for him and his family."

Another neighbour, who did not want to be named, said: "It is a real shock.

"We have only just found out what has happened.

"We can't believe this has happened to him."

The family says Mohammed Shafiq will be buried in the UK.

If you would like to pay tribute to Mr Shafiq, please add your comments below.

* Please do not comment on the circumstances surrounding Mr Shafiq's death as this may prejudice any legal proceedings.