THE grieving ex-wife of tragic dad Darren Waller who was found dead after a five-month police search is hoping 2012 brings their children happiness.
Lisa Gleaves said their three girls have “suffered greatly” in the 12-months since Darren went missing in Hartlepool on January 9 last year.
They endured a torrid time wondering what had happened to their dad, only to be hit with heartache when his body was found in undergrowth on May 18 on the town’s Central Estate.
Ellie, six, Leah, nine, and 17-year-old Kayleigh have just endured their first Christmas without their dad and Lisa hopes they can now begin to put the ordeal behind them and get on with their lives.
Lisa, 36, from the Owton Manor area of Hartlepool, said: “I’m really glad 2011 is over and we can look forward to 2012.
“It has been a very hard and long 12 months. What happened to Darren started in January and it took up the whole year.
“It feels like a time to make a new start, but then we have the anniversary of when he went missing. Hopefully we can get that behind us and we can look forward to happier times.”
Lisa and the girls remembered Darren, who lived in Alma Street, at a memorial service at St Paul’s Church, in Grange Road, a week before Christmas and will be going to Stranton Cemetery on the anniversary of his disappearance.
An inquest held in September heard how the trained mechanic lay dead for five months before he was found after falling asleep in a field during freezing January weather.
Police had launched an extensive search and a national appeal that culminated in the family appearing on BBC’s Missing Live TV show.
Lisa said: “It’s good to have the happy times like Christmas, but you still remember Darren. You have lows and sometimes you hit rock bottom.
“You have the nativity plays and Darren would always be there, but this year he wasn’t. Nothing is the same.
“In a way you feel guilty for celebrating, putting the tree up and all of that, but he wouldn’t want us to stop. He’d want us to keep going and for the kids to be kids and have fun.”
Lisa is particularly proud of Kayleigh who battled through her GCSEs just days after finding out her dad had died.
She is now studying beauty therapy at Hartlepool College of Further Education.
Lisa added: “I’m really proud of how they have been.
“With Kayleigh being a bit older, she understands what is happening a bit more and that makes it hard for her. But she has got on with things and we have been each other’s rock.
“We will always miss him and will always be thinking of him.”
Leah and Ella, pupils at Owton Manor Primary School, received £250 to spend on presents after entering the Mail’s Dear Santa competition.
Their letter told how their dad was “an angel entering God’s beautiful garden and the brightest star in the sky”.