A 35-year-old dad has died following a long battle with cancer after he was given the devastating diagnosis within weeks of his wife learning she had the disease.
Tributes have been paid to inspirational Martin Boatman who made a difference to so many lives after he lost his battle with cancer on Sunday.
Martin, of Washington, was told the heartbreaking news that he had cancer when his wife Sam was pregnant with their second child - and doctors feared he may not live to see his daughter born.
His brother, Jonny Boatman, said: “When Martin was diagnosed with cancer he had his little boy Michael, who was coming up three, and his wife was heavily pregnant with their little girl.
“The cancer was in his brain, lungs, liver and bones. He was initially told he only had a weeks to live and they spoke about bringing Esme’s birth forward.”
Against the odds Martin welcomed his little girl into the world in November 2016 after he was put on a new drug.
But in a second devastating ordeal, Sam, 33, was then diagnosed with bowel cancer just weeks after with Esme was born.
Thankfully the mum-of-two has now been given the all clear.
Martin was an award-winning Royal Yachting Association coach and also played rugby for West Hartlepool Rugby Club.
“Martin’s had a long battle with cancer and he lost that battle a couple of days ago,” said Jonny, 36.
“He did as much sailing as he could, he was trying to do as much as he could in the time he had.
“Me and my wife, Donna, lost our daughter, Imogen Rose, in the May before Martin was diagnosed.
“We decided to hold an annual memorial game and we’ve raised thousands for 4Louis - a charity which delivers keepsake boxes for parents who have lost a child.
“In 2017, a year on we held our first memorial match and despite everything Martin still made it for a run around the pitch - although he wasn’t meant to.
“He decided he was going to do it and it just shows the type of man he was and his strong character.
“He had around 20 tumours and the accomplishment of what he achieved while he was so ill is unbelievable really.
“As a family, we are so proud of him and everything he’s achieved.
“We have his legacy and his two children Michael and Esme.”
Martin was a Royal Yachting Association national coach and was even named Performance Development Coach of the Year at the UK Coaching Awards in 2016.
After he was given his award, the Royal Yachting Association said: “Boatman was nominated for his work with young sailors in the challenging junior Laser 4.7 class, achieving great success particularly with his female charges who have dominated major championships in 2016.
“Under Boatman’s tutelage, Great Britain won u16 European Championship gold and u16 World Championship bronze in the Laser 4.7 this year, and had four sailors inside the top 10 at both events, while he also supports and mentors coaching colleagues as a valued leader within the RYA Pathway team.”
The RYA have now named a trophy after Martin and set up a scholarship in his name.
The dedicated dad also played rugby for West Hartlepool Rugby Club but grew up playing for Ashbrooke.
Despite his illness Martin, who worked as a teacher, was able to perform best man duties at his eldest brother Lee’s wedding just a few weeks ago.
Martin has three brothers and a sister and grew up playing with two of his brothers, Jonny and Danny, who were always very close. They would spend holidays going sailing on a yacht called Mr Blow which inspired his love for the sport.
Martin and Sam married in 2011 after meeting when they both studied geography at Northumbria University and went on to become teachers.
Jonny added: “He would do anything for anyone, he was a fun loving guy. He enjoyed sports and spending time with his children and his wife.
“Knowing he was dying from cancer, he did as much as he could.
“They had a campervan and they’d take the kids out and a boat in the lakes, he just tried to make sure he did as much as he could.”
Martin was coaching for the RYA for more than 10 years and his touched hundreds of lives in the time .
“Reading the accolades from people, he’s made such an impact on so many people’s lives through his coaching,” said Jonny. “He’d touched a lot of people’s lives more than I had ever realised or expected.
“Some of the stories I’ve read from people make me so proud.”