On 29 September 2015, Tom Attwater died at home in Pattingham, South Staffordshire, England. For three years, he had suffered from a brain tumor, but before he died he raised £500,000 so that his stepdaughter, Kelli, could, when needed, receive life-saving cancer treatment. When she was three months old and again when she was three years old, Kelli suffered from childhood cancer neuroblastoma. A relapse is likely.
After learning that he had terminal cancer, he said, “I can’t just lie in bed feeling sorry for myself when there is so much more to be done to save Kelli. My own health is not my main concern because I have no chances left and Kelli does.”
Tom Attwater is survived by his widow, Joely; stepdaughter, Kelli; and son, Fletcher.
Joely, age 28, said, “Tom gave me the happiest moments of my life and I am in indescribable pain now he has gone. I knew one day I would lose him but did not think it would be this soon.
“This is a very tough time for Kelli. We explained that daddy’s ‘naughty lump’ in his head couldn’t be cured and that one day he would go to heaven while she was still a child. That’s why it meant so much to Tom to walk Kelli down the aisle at our wedding because he knew he wouldn’t be there when she is a bride, and Kelli knew this. She will cherish that moment forever.
“When Tom was in hospital and we found out that the time was getting close, I gently explained to Kelli that daddy would have to leave us soon. It was the most difficult moment of my life. Kelli is a daddy’s girl and she will struggle to adjust without her wonderful, loving father.
“Little Fletcher’s face always lit up and showed a real look of love when he was in Tom’s arms. We have hundreds of pictures of their time together and I am devastated that they will be all Fletcher has of the amazing man who was overjoyed to see him born.
“I will do my utmost to bring Fletcher up as a gentleman just like his dad.
“Tom has put cards, letters and presents away for every one of Kelli’s and Fletcher’s birthdays.
“Tom was my hero. His drive to help Kelli astounded all who knew him. Despite his extreme fatigue and daily seizures, he got out of bed every day to help fundraise. He wanted me to know that although he wouldn’t live to any age, Kelli would have the very best chance of life.
“Thank you to every single person who donated to Kelli’s appeal. Once the target was reached, Tom was able to relax and enjoy time with his family. We have such precious memories of him and will miss him unbearably.”
In September 2012, Tom Attwater learned that he had an astrocytoma — a cancerous mass — in his brain.
He said, “I remember asking doctors if I had days, weeks, months or years to live and feeling I was trapped in a film.
“When I gradually absorbed the news that I was 29 and facing the inevitable, I felt shock, then anger, then disappointment that I hadn’t yet given Kelli a little brother or sister.”
He said that when he learned that his wife was pregnant, “I cried and pretty much cried for the entire next day, maybe even two days.
“It’s the best news I’ve ever had. Having a child and making Kelli a big sister completes our family.”
Tom Attwater’s parents, Sue and Tony Attwater, spoke of him.
Mrs. Attwater said, “He worked hard and played hard but family always came first. He always told Kelli never to give up on anything but unfortunately this was one fight he could never win.”
His father added, “We are so proud that despite his illness he managed to raise all that money for the Kelli appeal. We will miss him so much. His personality filled the room.”
For More Information: “‘We’ve lost our hero’: Heartache as father who raised £500,000 for his little girl dies.” Shropshire Star (UK). 30 September 2015
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