September 29th, 2016

Tributes to tragic school dads who lost cancer battles in space of a year

Updated: 12:32 pm, Oct 08, 2015

TRAGEDY struck not once, not twice, but three times at Blossomfield Infants School as three dads lost their lives to cancer in the space of 12 months.

On last week’s front page we featured Amelia Gebruers who received a Pride of Britain Award for the fundraising she did in honour and memory of her dad Peter Gebruers who died on Valentine’s Day this year.

But Amelia’s sad story is just one of three at the school, which also saw Chris Preenes lose his valiant battle with cancer just after his 44th birthday last year and David ‘Dave’ Callow lose his brave battle at the age of 33 in January this year.

The families of the three brave men, along with fellow pupils and staff from the school have been fundraising for a variety of cancer charities over the years.

And their latest round of fundraising was in honour of the Marie Curie Hospice in Solihull who sent fundraiser Tracey Finnegan down to receive the cheque for £433.91 and give a big thank you to everyone at the school who raised the cash at a PTA disco in the summer.

This figure is due to be match-funded in the near future by a High Street bank.

Yvonne Cooper, community and family mentor at the school said: “Blossomfield Infant School never expected a year quite like it when they opened their doors to greet  a new academic year in September 2013.

“Within a matter of months three young daddies were each diagnosed with cancer, resulting in terminal illness and sadly their loss.

“Our focus as a school community from diagnosis to current day has always been to support three incredible families through the devastation they faced on a daily basis and as such we have been very much family led.

“We all feel honoured and privileged to know these families and as far as our school community is concerned they are true superheroes.”

Chris Preene’s tribute by wife Lisette Preene:

“Chris  succumbed to Ewing’s sarcoma just after his 44th birthday last year leaving two small children aged three and five.

“Chris and I were together for eight years and very happily married for six of them.

“He was my soulmate, the love of my life.

“Chris loved his family above all else and we miss him and the love that surrounded us more than words can say.

“Chris was also passionate about his job, being a Director for Service Hydraulics where he had many happy times.

“The other main passion Chris had was definitely a shared interest….music.

“Chris narrowly missed out on a record deal but this didn’t alter his love for live music, he had so much fun as lead guitarist and backing vocals with his band Licquid.

“Along with our son Harry, I now have guitar lessons, it’s just one of our ways of keeping the spirit of Chris alive.”

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Dave Callow tribute by wife Charlotte Callow:

“David Lee Gary Callow “Dave” passed away on the January 4, 2015, aged just 33.

“He was ill for 11 months and was the bravest, most courageous man I have ever met.

“He had brain cancer, glioblastoma multiforme and gliosarcoma.

“In his last 11 months he had two operations, six rounds of chemo and 30 radiotherapy sessions, all at the Q.E in Birmingham.

“Dave always had a positive attitude to his treatment and I believe it helped greatly, it was always us against the world.

“Dave’s humour never faltered, he could make anybody laugh.

“Dave was a family man, who loved his job as a petrol tanker driver and a proud supporter of Birmingham City.

“We met when Dave was 18 and I was 17 and were together ever since.

“We married in 2007 and started our family in 2009 when our daughter Emily was born.

“Dave was the proudest husband and dad. Even when Dave became ill we still felt lucky as we were so happy.

“Dave’s final year was spent enjoying special times together as a family, with a normal family Christmas just weeks before he died.

“We went to the QE on New Years Eve and received bad news on the progression of the disease.

“We then went to my nan’s 90th birthday tea and Dave smiled and carried on as though there was nothing wrong even though he had the weight of the world on his shoulders. His smile and his humour still there for all to see.

“Dave deteriorated quickly and had no real chance to say goodbye.

“His final hours were spent in the Marie Curie Hospice in Solihull where he was made comfortable and our whole family was supported.

“We have had a lot of involvement from Blossomfield School, Marie Curie Hospice, Macmillan, QE hospital to name but a few.

“We have made friends with lots of people through our situation, both patients and staff and have some new lifelong friends.

“The support we have received both during Dave’s illness and bereavement support has been outstanding.

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Pete Gebruers tribute by wife Lucy Gebruers:

“My beautiful husband Pete Gebruers was the kind of man that everyone loved.

“The ultimate gentleman, the greatest friend, loving husband and he had a love for his family that was incredibly special and rare.

“The most dedicated father, he invested every spare minute that he had into our two wonderful children.

“And it is their strength over the last 18 months that is the proof that he still lives on in them.

“Always composed in a crisis – he kept me calm and safe and reassured.

“Pete knew just what to do in every situation, he was my absolute rock, my best friend, my soulmate, my everything.

“I had the most magical 14 years with the most special man I could have hoped to have met, and for that I am truly grateful.

“Yes, we are heartbroken that we have lost him, but we also know how blessed we were to have had him.

“We are thankful for every single moment that we shared and our wonderful memories keep him alive in our hearts.

“We will always feel truly privileged – because he loved us.

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