WHEN Bill Cartwright was told the devastating news he had terminal cancer he didn’t get depressed.
Instead he set about organising the party to end all parties to make sure he could get all his loved ones together in one room and celebrate the good times.
Granddad Bill, 84, has never been one to let anything get him down and he was not going to start when he heard the C-word.
“They told me I had a few months left,” he said. I just thought ‘so be it, I’ve got it, I’ve got to embrace what’s coming’. You just live without regrets.”
Around 30 of Bill’s relatives, friends and neighbours descended on his home, on the Coast Road in Blackhall Rocks, for the party of a lifetime.
There was even a whipround, which raised £220 for Macmillan Cancer Support, an organisation which Bill thinks is “marvellous”.
Bill, who has been married to Anona, 81, for 59 years, was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer in November after he noticed he was often coughing, had breathlessness and would lose his voice.
Medics at the Peterlee Walk-In Centre referred him to Dr Devadasan Shakespeare, a visiting consultant at the University Hospital of Hartlepool.
Bill was sent for scans at James Cook University Hospital, in Middlesbrough, where he underwent 12 days of radiotherpay in February.
About a month ago, Bill had the idea of having a party.
He said: “I thought ‘I’m going to have a party, we will have a party because I’m not going to be able to see my loved ones while I’m gone, I might as well embrace them while I’m alive’.
“I discussed it with the wife and I said to the young ones ‘I want you to get your heads together and organise a party’,
“I just wanted to get all my friends and relations together.”
The party featured a mix of music, a buffet including a Union Jack cake, a magician, a pool table and karaoke.
Bill, who is dad to Susan Chambers, 54, David Cartwright, 53, and Paul Cartwright, 55, and has six grandchildren, five great-grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, who were all at the party, added: “The highlight was just having everyone there.
“There were some faces I hadn’t seen for 30 or 40 years.
“We weren’t allowed any tears.
“I was a tiny bit welled up.”
Anona said: “I’ve got a great husband.
“A party is what he wanted and that’s what he got.”
Susan said: “He is a brilliant father and a wonderful man and very much loved.”
Bill worked at Horden pit, was an apprentice riveter at Gray’s shipyard in Hartlepool, and was also a labourer at various East Durham farms.
He also served five years in the Army and was based in Korea in 1952 and also worked as a driver for United Buses.
He also worked in haulage, furniture removal and as a driver for Pioneer Transport in Hartlepool.
Bill’s daughter-in-law Mary Cartwright, a former Peterlee Mayor, is organising a World’s Biggest Coffee Morning for Macmillan through her work with Phillips Taxis, in Bill’s honour, on September 26.