Beloved Radio Host Gordon Sparks Dead at 61

BBC radio presenter Gordon Sparks has died following a battle with cancer. Sparks, who presented BBC Radio Devon's breakfast show and was better known as "Sparksy," was being treated for cancer at St Luke's Hospice in Plymouth, with Stephanie Marshall, head of BBC South and South West, sharing on Sunday, Oct.16 that the beloved radio host passed away. Sparks was 61.

Sparks' passing came five months after he announced in May that he developed tumors in his throat 17 years after beating testicular cancer. In a statement at the time, Sparks shared, "After initially thinking I had laryngitis, the longer things went on, so the concerns grew and the various tests were taken. This was heightened to a scan when it was discovered I had two growths, one of which had damaged my vocal chords. Not the best for radio!" The host went on to reveal that "the latest scan has shown that there has been no spread to any other part of my body. The medical gurus are going to try and kill the cancer completely by an intense period so radiotherapy every day for a month is on the cards."

Over the following months, Sparks continued to document his battle against cancer, sharing on Oct. 8 that he experienced "severe breathing difficulties" and was taken to the hospital, where he was "undergoing various tests." In an Oct. 12 update, Ward shared the devastating news that the tumor was "slightly bigger" and his lungs were "not responding to antibiotics. New tumour on liver." He added, "soon to be transferred to St Luke's Hospice for what I'm told will be a period of weeks or short number of months." Then on Oct. 14, after receiving a hospital visit from his granddaughter the day prior, Sparks shared that he was transferred to St. Luke's Hospice.

Better known to fans as "Sparksy," Sparks presented the breakfast show at BBC for years and also commentated on Plymouth Argyle football games for 32 years. Amid his passing, tributes immediately poured in, with fellow station presenter Angela Kalwaites tweeting, "We will all miss our friend and colleague so much – he was definitely one-of-a-kind with a massive heart and sense of humour." Mark Grinnell, a BBC executive and the editor of Radio Devon, said, per the BBC, Massive loss to Plymouth, massive loss to Devon, massive loss to the BBC. A great broadcaster. He'll be remembered by many listeners I know as the voice of Argyle, voice on the breakfast show on their radio station. He'll be remembered to us as a dear friend and colleague."

Sparks is survived by his wife Heather, daughters Kirsty and Holly, and his granddaughter. A funeral for Sparks will be held at Home Park on Wednesday, Nov. 2.