Woman taking part in Great North Run in memory of partner who died after roof fall

“I knew he would have made an amazing dad. He was so excited to meet our daughter.”

The partner of a man who sadly died after a roof fall is taking part in the Great North Run for the first time in his memory.

Derek Heslop, affectionately known as Dez, was only 23 years old when he slipped and fell 15ft from a roof in South Shields and sustained a severe head injury.

This was his fourth day in his new role as a roofer, and his partner Rebecca Ward was six months pregnant with their first child.

Recalling the incident Rebecca, from Dipton, said: “The Great North Air Ambulance Service (GNAAS) were first on the scene and airlifted him straight to the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle where he remained in an induced coma for seven days.

“Unfortunately he didn’t survive after everyone’s best efforts but if it wasn’t for the air ambulance acting as quickly and efficiently as they did he would never have stood a chance.”

Mr Heslop passed away in February 2014 and never got to meet his daughter Emily, but Rebecca Ward believes he would have been a great father.

She said: “Dez was always up for a laugh, loved a party, loved to socialise and loved a challenge.

“He was also very loving and caring and would do absolutely anything for his family and those he cared for.

“This is the part I loved most about him and I knew he would have made an amazing dad. He was so excited to meet our daughter, it even got to the point where he would greet my bump with a kiss before myself.”

Since losing Mr Heslop, the 30-year-old was able to find love again and has had another daughter called Rita with her partner Tom, and they have recently bought a house.

She said: “It has been a very strange and difficult eight years to say the least but even after everything I’ve been through I still find myself very fortunate as I have three wonderful families, my own, Derek’s and Tom’s, who all get along and I have a fantastic friendship group who have always been there for me and have helped me stay strong.”

Since the incident Rebecca has taken part in a few challenges to raise money for GNAAS and this year she has bought a charity place to take part in the Great North Run and is encouraging others to do the same.

She said: “GNAAS survives on charitable donations so people should buy a charity place to help them continue to save as many lives as possible and continue their amazing work. The Great North Run is one of the largest and most popular organised runs in the UK and I can’t wait to take part in it and help GNAAS again. I will be forever grateful for how they helped my partner.”

To sponsor Rebecca visit her JustGiving page here.

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