MOURNERS are asked to wear colourful outfits to the funeral of Kingswinford wish-maker Steve Ford as he is laid to rest next week.

Steve, who was known throughout the borough for his Wishing Well charity through which he helped make dreams come true for young hospital patients, was found dead at his home on December 29 at the age of 60.

He is thought to have suffered a heart attack.

A funeral date has now been set for Tuesday February 12. A service will be held at St Mary's Church, Kingswinford, at 11am, followed by a wake at The Old Courthouse.

Mourners are asked to wear bright outfits, long-time friend Dave Brownhill told the News. He said: "We want people to dress up in colourful clothes, no black - as Steve was a colourful character in the community."

Despite battling his own health problems which cut short his working life - Steve, of Ash Crescent, devoted more than 30 years to trying to brighten the days of poorly youngsters on the children's ward at Russells Hall Hospital which he would visit regularly to help see if he could help to bring some of their dreams to life.

Dave said his friend, whose real name was Stephen Mukanovic, started the 'make a wish' initiative for young inpatients through his role as a presenter on Dudley Hospital Radio, which he had joined in the early 1980s, and "he literally threw himself into it".

Over the years he helped make hundreds of wishes come true. Poorly youngsters got the chance to ride in fast cars, meet celebrities, try out their dream job, ride in a horse-drawn carriage - and one lucky patient was fixed up with a flight on Concorde - thanks to Steve's tireless efforts.

Just days before his death he had been helping with Dudley Council for Voluntary Service's Operation Santa appeal, sorting and wrapping presents, to help bring a smile to the faces of needy children in the borough.

Everyone is welcome to attend the funeral which will be a celebration of Steve's life, Dave told the News, and he added: "We know people are coming from all different parts of the country, we've been contacted by people as far away as Sheffield and London. It's been amazing just how many people have got in touch."

He said relatives have requested family flowers only - with donations set to go to Arthritis Research UK in memory of Steve, who was plagued with arthritis for many years.