Family mourns loss of brave Wigan dad

Tributes have been paid to a popular Wigan dad after his sudden death.

Friday, 18th May 2018, 3:12 pm
Updated Friday, 18th May 2018, 3:16 pm
Kevin Atherton, front, with wife Lynette and sons Mark, Lee, Paul and Karl

Kevin Atherton, known most simply as Kev, was just 70 years old when he died on May 5 after a battle with leukaemia.

Other news: Mixed feelings as Wigan link road gets blessingTragically, Kev, a father of six, had only learned of his illness two weeks before he died, leaving him little time left to enjoy time with his loved ones.

Today, one of his sons led heartwarming tributes to a man who was respected and renowned in equal measure.

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“He was quite a sporty guy,” was the first thing which sprung to mind from son Paul, 34.

A once promising footballer for Blackburn Rovers, Kev would go on to become a joiner, a job which Karl said was “where he was the most happy.”

And when not building a strong rapport with his customers, Kev balanced his work life with managing Garswood Juniors in the 1980s, after hanging up his own boots.

“We had loads of messages pouring in from lads saying he was the best manager they ever played for. He gave them their chance,” Paul said.

He added: “He was always someone who put everybody else first.

“If that meant he had to be someone’s taxi for a couple of hours, he would do it.

“If it meant he missed out on doing something else, as long as he was helping someone out, he was happy.”

Paul also revealed the heartbreaking final few days before his dad died, and his brave reaction to the news that he was terminally ill.

“It was quite sudden, and a very short battle,” he said.

“He had a couple of battles with pneumonia recently. He became unwell again, so we took him in.

“He was diagnosed with very aggressive leukaemia.

“When he asked how long he had, they said it would be days, at most.

“It hit him hard, but he was so brave. He kept his own independence and his dignity right up to the last day.

“He didn’t want anyone to feel he was upset, he put on a brave front and was the one holding everyone together.”

He added: “He came home for his final few days and even arranged his own funeral.”

Such was the importance of family to Kev, he specifically arranged his funeral to be on the same day as that of his wife Lynette, who was just 57 when she died of a heart attack in May 2015.

They met in 1973 and had four children, Mark, Paul, Karl and Lee.

The couple had been married since 1977 and would have celebrated their ruby anniversary last December.

“They were a true love story,” said Paul.

“My dad had never been the same guy since.”

The devoted dad is also survived by two children from a previous marriage.

Kev’s funeral will take place on Monday, May 21 at Holy Trinity Church in Ashton, before heading to St Helens crematorium.

There will then be a wake at Garswood Labour Club, appropriately chosen by his family due to his life of hard work and his love of local sports.