A LOVING daughter hopes a purple 'reign' will pay tribute a poignant tribute to her late father who died of pancreatic cancer.

Mairead Johnson, 56, of Hay Street, sadly lost her dad Harry Keith to the disease and has arranged for the Beacon Arts Centre and local shop Hearts & Stitches to be lit up purple for World Pancreatic Cancer Day.

The annual event takes place tomorrow.

Mairead says it is so important to heighten awareness of the deadly disease.

She said: "When my father took ill, we didn't know what pancreatic cancer was.

"We learned very quickly that it's a devastating cancer.

"It hides itself and by the time it shows any symptoms it's mostly too late for any treatment.

"A lot of people are diagnosed in A&E and they die within days, if not hours.

"Pancreatic cancer doesn't get funding and we had to get 100,000 signatures just to get it debated in parliament.

"Hopefully by lighting up the Beacon and the Hearts & Stitches shop on Thursday we can raise awareness of pancreatic cancer and help to save lives."

It was back on Christmas day in 2007 when Mairead's father Harry took ill.

Mairead said: "I thought I had given him food poisoning.

"He said he had a horrible pain just below his sternum and felt that he had to push food down.

"He was also sick and that's what made the pain start."

When Harry didn't feel any better he visited his doctor and was eventually diagnosed in March 2008.

Mairead added: "By that time there was no chance of him getting any treatment.

"The only reason he got a diagnosis is because he kept pushing for it."

Harry passed away that June at the age of 82.

Mairead said: "Getting that amount of time is not common it's usually a lot quicker.

"But my dad wanted to raise awareness of it and he wanted to fight it.

"So as a family we have carried on doing that."

Mairead says she's thrilled that the Beacon and Hearts & Stitches in Greenock have both agreed to bathe their premises in purple.

It's part of the Purple Lights for pancreatic cancer campaign which is supported by a range of charities.

Mairead said: "I go to a crochet group at Hearts & Stitches, which is run by Sandra McCorkell.

"We're also selling purple crochet butterflies, cupcakes, bobbles and hair clips.

"I'm pleased that the Beacon is also going to light up purple too, as it will be seen far and wide.

"I hope that people go along to the Beacon or Hearts & Stitches to take selfies and share it Facebook to raise awareness.

"It might just save a life."

Mairead, who is married to Henry, 60, and has a son Darren, 33, and daughter Claire, 36, told the Tele her dad would be happy to know that more awareness is being raised about pancreatic cancer.

She said: "My father was a really good man.

"He led a totally Christian life - he lived his life by his beliefs.

"He would be so glad to get the awareness out there."

Almost 10,000 people are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in the UK each year.

Less than seven per cent of those diagnosed survive five years or more, and despite being the UK’s fifth biggest cancer killer, the disease receives only two per cent of UK cancer research funding.

Mairead is also keen to dispel some of the myths surrounding the cancer.

She said: "A lot of people put pancreatic cancer down to old age, being fat or smoking and drinking.

"It's got that taboo because people don't speak about it but it's not confined to these.

"My father was a non-smoker and teetotal and he only weighed 11 stone."

Mairead is keen to raise awareness of some of the symptoms people should act upon.

She said: "Look out for weight loss, a loss of appetite, oil in the stools and touches of jaundice.

"The one that I keep coming back to with my father, which he had for two or three years previous, was an itch that he couldn't get rid of.

"It was in the exact same spot where he started to get the pain."

For more details about the Purple Lights campaign visit www.purplelightsuk.org