‘Hugely popular’ Sheffield dad-of-seven loses mental health battle as tributes flood in
Tributes have poured in to a hugely popular dad-of-seven from Sheffield, described as an ‘absolute diamond of a man’.
Naz Khan, as he was best known, tragically lost his battle with mental health on Sunday, January 24, and the city has united in grief.
The 43-year-old, who lived in Firth Park, having grown up in Darnall, was a well-known figure whose generosity friends and family said knew no bounds.
Naz worked for Costco in Sheffield as a trade coordinator and was described by one colleague as the ‘most successful they ever had’.
He was also well known as an amateur boxer, who had thrilled crowds during his younger years in numerous charity bouts, and for his days working at Khans Restaurant on West Street in Sheffield city centre.
Indeed, it was from his time at the restaurant that Mohammed Nazim, to give him his real name, took the moniker by which he was best known.
Matt Smith, who was a close friend and colleague at Costco, said it was only after Naz’s death that the true scale of his popularity within the city and beyond had become apparent.
More than 500 people have joined a Facebook group set up in his honour, and thousands of pounds have been donated to two fundraising appeals launched in his memory.
Matt said it was heartbreaking that Naz, who had helped so many others when they were down, felt unable to reach out when he needed support.
"Naz was truly one of a kind. He was a friend to so many people and always helped everyone out,” he said.
"If he saw anybody feeling a bit down he would try to cheer them up. He was always taking the mickey out of people to try to bring a smile to their faces. He was so funny.
"One thing he would have wanted was for more people to be able to talk about their mental health and if they’re struggling to reach out to friends.
"No matter how many friends he had he was too proud to speak about it. There were so many people who had no idea he was in the state he was and if they had known would have rallied round him because he meant so much to so many people.
"I always knew he was a popular guy but sadly only now are people realising just how popular he was.”
Matt told how Naz helped countless people find work at Costco or one of the many other businesses with which he had links, with one friend commenting that he must have ‘got half of Sheffield a job’.
When Naz saw a homeless person, added Matt, he would always stop to talk, handing them his business card and telling them to call him if they wanted work, before taking them to get something to eat.
Naz was also a devoted dad and family man, who loved spending time with his children and nieces and nephews, said Matt.
Naz’s friends and family are encouraging people to use the #bemorenaz hashtag to share stories of his good deeds and raise awareness of mental health problems.
Naz’s niece Nagina, who set up the Remembering Naz Khan Facebook group, wrote: “You would light up the room as soon as you walked in. You would make us all laugh until we were crying happy tears. Once someone has met you they honestly could never forget you.
"I hope you found the peace that you needed, we love you more than you would EVER have known.”
Steel City Spartans boxing club, with whom Naz fought, said: “Naz was a genuine and unbiased fella who always had a smile and plenty of cheer whenever you came across him. A friend to many indeed!"
Boxer Ryan Rhodes, a former world title challenger who now runs his own gym in Sheffield, added: “RIP my friend.”
On the Facebook group set up in his memory, one person wrote: “Well what can I say about this absolute diamond of a man. This lad would do owt for anyone.
"No matter who you were, if you needed him he'd be there for you. He loved to help others... when you were out with him the laughs you had were priceless.”
Another person described how Naz had ‘made the world seem a better place again’ after an attempt on her own life.
"I wish you could see the love people have for you. You were and always will be loved beyond measure,” she added.
A third person wrote: “Naz always made you feel special, always had a kind word or nice comment for everybody. He was a genuinely nice guy and everybody, colleagues, members, loved him…. I’m honoured to have known you.”
And a fourth commented: “I hope you know how many hearts you touched, Naz. You were so loved and respected. You were so respectful, so kind and wanted the world to be a better place.
"You saw the ugliness in the world and wanted to change it with your generosity, your laughter or in any way you could help.”
Naz’s funeral was held on Tuesday at Shiregreen Cemetery.
A fundraising appeal has been set up at gofundme.com/f/in-memory-of-naz-khan.
Another appeal has been launched to build water pumps and wells in poorer parts of the world in Naz’s memory, with more than £3,400 raised already, at justgiving.com/fundraising/nazkhancharityprojects.
If you need to talk, you can call the 24-hour Samaritans helpline for free on 116 123, or visit samaritans.org.