Thousands of pounds are being raised for the family of a Bexley man and avid Charlton fan who has spent the last month in an induced coma fighting coronavirus.

Andrew Watts, a popular black cab driver from Erith, tested positive for the virus on Boxing Day, and has since spent the last six weeks in a critical state at Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

The situation has been incredibly sad for the 39-year-old's family, wife Hayley and two sons Jack and Josh (aged six and three), who have been left alone at the "hardest time of their lives, unable to see their hero."

And with Hayley, a beautician, unable to work due to the lockdown, the family have no income, causing more stress, says childhood friend Paul Andrea, 40.

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Friends since they were seven, Paul described Andrew as "such a brilliant, nice guy," and having known the family for years, he said he was "heartbroken at being completely unable to help."

So the 40-year-old from Erith is raising some funds to "take some of the stress away from this beautiful family, who have always been there for me, and I know would do this for me in a heartbeat."

To help encourage people to donate, Paul will be running a virtual half marathon later this month, and the GoFundMe set up last week with a target of £1,000 has already well exceeded that.

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In 2019, Andrew was diagnosed with incurable stage 4 lymphoma, so spent the last two years fighting the disease through chemotherapy. This also makes him highly vulnerable to the effects of Covid-19, and meant he spent the majority of 2020 carefully shielding.

Paul said they did not know how the father of two had caught the virus, but amongst all their friends, "he was the one we really didn't want to catch it."

"I visited him on Christmas Day to drop off some presents and spoke to him at the end of the garden, and he didn't seem himself.

"Andrew was tested on Boxing Day, and they decided to keep him in at the hospital as a precaution.

"He deteriorated quickly and heavily, and within a few days he was put in an induced coma in the ICU, and he's spent the last four weeks trying to fight the virus like that and give it all he has."

A long-time friend of the family, he continue: "I know it's been really really tough for Hayley and the kids. The eldest is just old enough to understand what's going on, and I've been dying to go round and give them all a hug, but you can't."

"I've been talking to Hayley every day for updates, or Andrew's dad when it gets too much for her, and you just get a lump in your throat every time you talk, hearing how devastating it's been for them."

A few weeks ago the family were told to expect the worst, but in recent days there have been some positive signs of recovery from the black cab driver as he tried to open his eyes.

"I'm really hopeful, Andrew is such a fighter, he;s unbelievable, and he never gives up. But it's baby steps at the moment, and we don't know what's going to happen."

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Paul recalled feeling 'helpless', so last month he decided to do what he could, starting a GoFundMe just to help the family with bills and food.

"I just want to do something for them whilst their daddy is in hospital.

"They deserve it too, they are such a deserving family. I know they'd do anything for me."

Paul and his twin brother will be running the 13.1 mile virtual half marathon on February 27 in sun, rain or snow.

So far the fundraiser has raised over £10,000, much in thanks to Andrew's popularity as a black cab driver and lifelong Charlton fan, say's Paul.

"Those of you that know Andy, know how special he is to us all and if anyone can do this, Andy can."

You can view and donate to the fundraiser here.