DOZENS of friends gathered in Charlton over the weekend to pay tribute to a ‘big cuddly giant’ who died last month.

Around 50 friends and former colleagues met at the Royal Oak, in Charlton, to remember Sam Knight, of Mercia Avenue, who died on March 19 at the age of 27.

Social media posts paying tribute to Sam highlighted his kindness and gentleness, his ‘heart of gold’ and the laughs he shared in over the years.

The response prompted a group of friends to arrange an event on Saturday to ‘see off our big cuddly giant.’

“If anyone deserves to see from above how loved and appreciated they were, it’s our Sam,” said Ashleigh Fisher, one of Sam’s schoolfriends, who helped arrange Saturday’s event.

“Sam was and forever will be the nicest, most compassionate person I have ever met. He was the kind of person you only wished the best for in every aspect of life.”

After the event, Ashleigh added: “Even though Sam’s not here anymore he was still bringing people together and making them laugh.”

Sam attended Portway and then Harrow Way schools, before going on to work at Stannah.

Old friends and new colleagues were among those who met at 7pm on Saturday evening to raise a glass in his memory at the Royal Oak. So many turned up that the pub ran out of glasses at one point.

The group then headed to Charlton Lakes, where Sam and his friends spent much of their childhoods, to let off lanterns and balloons on which messages had been written.

Nicola King went to both Harrow Way and Portway with Sam before working with him at Stannah.

She said: “Sam has been in my life since we were small and he’s been someone who shows nothing but love, loyalty and generosity.

“After primary and secondary school I was delighted to walk into Stannah and be greeted by his warm smile and he made the days there so much brighter.”

Miranda Paxton, who was Sam’s date to the Harrow Way prom, also helped organise the meet-up on Saturday.

“He was one of my best mates at school and genuinely is the nicest bloke I have ever had the pleasure of meeting,” she said.

“He has made me laugh over and over, and he was always there for you if you needed him.”

The only time that Sam was feared was on the football pitch – if only for the power of his shooting.

Ashleigh added: “I remember back in the day for Harrow Rangers I took a throw-in and said ‘pass it back to me, Sam’.

“He said ‘Nope’, banged it from just past the halfway line and it went straight in the top corner. We were about 14.

“I said ‘’Fair enough’.”

Sam also left an impression on people in the years he worked at Stannah. Russell Bedford was a colleague of his -the pair met six years ago.

He said: “He was a cleaner at the time. He applied a couple of times to work for Stannah, rather than the cleaning firm, and got turned down, but we all kept pushing him to apply again and thankfully he did and got in the door.

“He really is going to be a big loss to this place.

“Sometimes in life you become extremely privileged and meet a person who is kind, caring, considerate and genuine. An example to us all of how we could be as people.

“A true gentleman, a wonderful person, and a tragic loss.”