Son’s poignant journey to be close to his father again
A son has cycled a 120-mile round trip to where his father's ashes were scattered to mark the 10th anniversary of his sudden death.
Will Neville's father Steve, from Oldbury, died suddenly from a cardiac arrest, caused by a heart attack, back in 2010.
The day of Steve’s death fell on the day he was going to be reunited with his son after five years of being apart.
“I was getting my shoes on to leave when a police officer came to the front door and told me that Dad had been found dead,” said Will, who lives in Edgbaston with wife Charlotte and their 18-month old son, Ben.
“I had lost contact with Dad after my parents had split up in 2005. When I turned 21, I wanted a relationship with him, so I got in touch and we arranged to meet up.
“It was devastating to receive that news and to know that I wasn’t able to say goodbye. You just never know how you’re going to react, especially when I hadn’t spoken to him in a while. But it hit me hard and I was in a state of shock.”
Steve, who was known to have been living with angina, was a court caretaker and lived alone. Steve was discovered in his flat when colleagues became concerned after he had not turned up for work.
Steve was 56 when he died. He leaves behind sons Will, now aged 31, and Tom, now aged 32.
The family decided to scatter Steve’s ashes at Carding Mill Valley in Shropshire. As a keen cyclist, Steve would regularly ride out to the beauty spot, which he regarded as his favourite place.
But Will was unable to attend this as he was in hospital at the time, due to heart problems of his own.
Will, who works as a homeless services manager, said: “I started to notice a pain in my chest which I ignored at first.
“But throughout the day it got worse and I told my friend, who said I should get it checked out. I went to A&E and I was told that I’d had a heart attack, caused by the narrowing of the arteries in my heart.
“I was told that my lifestyle at the time could have been a factor in this, as my diet was poor and I wasn’t exercising. After what had happened to my Dad, I knew I had to make some changes.”
Following positive changes to his lifestyle, Will has recently been discharged as an outpatient, as doctors are happy that his heart has recovered from the heart attack.
He has also taken up his father's hobby – and cycled from his home to Carding Mill Valley and back again, to visit for the first time the spot where his father's ashes were scattered. He made the journey on July 14 – 10 years to the day that Steve passed away.
Will, who was joined by friends for the event, chose to raise money for the British Heart Foundation, which is the largest independent funder of heart and circulatory disease research in the UK.
He has so far raised over £1,600.
“To do this was a great challenge for myself both emotionally and physically,” said Will.
“I can’t thank the friends who joined me enough – their support was vital to me and to help with the fundraising. Passing the point where my Dad’s ashes were scattered was an emotional moment that I don’t think I’ll ever forget.
“It feels amazing to raise money for the BHF and know that this money will help the charity fund research into heart and circulatory conditions, like those that have affected both myself and my dad.”
To donate to Will’s fundraiser, visit justgiving.com/Steve-Neville-Memorial-Ride