A MUM of four has thanked well-wishers who have helped her children get over the tragic death of their dad.
Mark Edward Winspear, 39, was found dead on December 11.
His body was discovered on the front step of a block of flats in Inverness Road, off Owton Manor Lane, and a subsequent inquest determined that he died from a fractured skull that could have been related to a fall on the night before he was found. A secondary cause of death was given as hypothermia.
Mark's death stunned his ex-wife Donna Williamson and their four children, Gareth, 17, 14-year-old Brittany, Adam, 12 and nine-year-old Scott, and rather than looking forward to Christmas, the family had to go through the ordeal of their father's funeral on December 23.
Donna, 34, said: "We cremated him two days before Christmas, it was a terrible time. Christmas was horrendous. We did our best to get through it but it was quiet, and normally it's mayhem."
Donna said that due to funeral arrangements she was left short of money for Christmas presents, and was touched after she contacted social services who joined forces with TFM Radio to provide presents for the youngsters.
"We did our best and at least they had something more to open," she added.
Recently Donna entered a cooking competition at Stranton Primary School, in Southburn Terrace, Hartlepool, with her son Scott, who is a pupil.
The pair were lucky enough to win a 50 voucher for Krimo's restaurant on Hartlepool Marina.
Donna and Scott were delighted when the school and the restaurateur, Krimo Bouabda, extended the voucher to pay for a meal for the whole family.
The full-time mum, of Stockton Road, also wanted to thank her mum and dad, Kathy and Colin, without whom she said that she "would not have got through it".
She added: "People have been so kind to us.
"It has been a terrible few months for all of us, especially for the kids, and we are grateful to everyone who has helped us try and get over Mark's death."