‘A promise I can’t keep’ – Hartlepool granddad who vowed to care for daughter’s children struck down with terminal cancer

Bobby Clayton with his grandchildren Bobby Jnr and Ellie-Mae Clayton
Bobby Clayton with his grandchildren Bobby Jnr and Ellie-Mae Clayton

A LOVING granddad promised his daughter-in-law that he would do all he could to look after her children and her devastated husband after she tragically died in a supermarket car park.

But now after a devastaing blow, Bobby Clayton won’t be able to keep his promise after being struck down with terminal cancer.

Sue Burke (Macmillian Clinical Nurse Specialist) enjoys a cup of tea and a cake with Bobby Clayton and Debbie Beavis when they presented her with �800.

Sue Burke (Macmillian Clinical Nurse Specialist) enjoys a cup of tea and a cake with Bobby Clayton and Debbie Beavis when they presented her with �800.

Vicky Clayton died on May 15, 2012, just five days after giving birth to Ellie Mae. Poignantly, the date of Vicky’s death was also the first birthday of her other child, Bobby junior, and the day she was celebrating her 33rd birthday.

After leaving her husband, also called Bobby, with the two young children to care for, Bobby senior vowed to do all he could to help the grief-stricken family going.

After being diagnosed with cancer, his wife Lesley told the Mail that the promise he made to tragic Vicky has been the reason he is refusing to give up his brave fight.

Vicky’s devastated husband Bobby was helped through the ordeal by Vicky’s family and his own mum and dad Lesley and Bobby senior, who care for his two children while he goes out to work.

But now Bobby senior, 55, has been told by doctors that he has cancer of the oesophagus and the liver, and that nothing more can be done to help him.

Today his wife Lesley, 52, who gave up her job as a teacher at the town’s Manor College of Technology to care for Bobby senior, said: “I don’t know how we are coping. It’s hard but you have got to keep going for the kids.

“The kids have to live with as much normality as we can provide them with.

“They keep us going, we live for the kids.

“That’s what has kept my husband going. When we lost Vicky he made a promise to her that we would always look after them and protect them. It’s a will for him to carry on.

“If he didn’t have them I believe he would have given up at Christmas-time when we thought we might lose him.”

Asbestos manager Bobby senior was on an annual holiday to Benidorm in October last year to celebrate he and his beloved wife’s 34th wedding anniversary when he began to feel unwell.

Lesley, who was just 13-years-old when she met Bobby, said he had a pain in his side so they telephoned their GP back at home to make an appointment for when they returned.

Medical tests showed there was something wrong, and in November last year he was diagnosed with terminal cancer.

“He had no symptoms before then at all,” added Lesley.

“The doctors couldn’t believe that he didn’t have a cough or wasn’t struggling to eat.

“He’s having chemotherapy at the moment to keep him going but we don’t want to know how long he’s got left.

“The doctors could have told us, but we don’t want a time limit.

“We didn’t think he would see Christmas last year because he was really ill, but he has managed to pull through.”

The family say they have been helped immensely by the Macmillan Nurses and in a bid to raise funds for them they held a fundraising evening of raffles and donations with 30 of their relatives and friends at their home which raised over £800 in three hours.

The charity night, on May 9, was the same day as Ellie-May’s second birthday.

Lesley, of Rossmere Way, in Hartlepool, said: “We look after them while their dad Bobby is at work.

“They keep us all going and keep us focused and strong. My son Bobby struggled with the news about his dad at first, but he’s being strong now.”

She added: “Ellie-Mae and Bobby are doing fine, they were too young, but they know who their mam is and we regularly take them to the cemetery.

“We went the other day, and had a picnic at the grave.

“They kiss her picture, and every day there’s something said about their mammy. They will never ever not know who she is.”

An inquest ruled that Vicky died after a tear in the main blood vessel in her heart ruptured.

*ANYONE who would like to arrange making a donation for Macmillan Nurses should contact the family at bobby.clayton2@hotmail.co.uk.