“I grew up in England in quite a simple home, really. But I always knew that I was loved.
I was born in 59 and my Dad was very different from the typical men that were around in that era.
I can remember when I was about 13 - and I was highly embarrassed – one day my dad and I were standing in a newsagent getting the Sunday paper and he said, “The greatest treasure I have is my family. They mean more to me than anything else in this world.”
His own dad actually went AWOL after the war and set up another family in the north. He was a bigamist. And interestingly, the first three children who were born in that family were three boys again and his dad gave them the same names. When we eventually learned of it, we all went, “That’s so he didn’t muddle them up.”
But that was really cruel on his dad’s part because his mum never knew where he was. He just never came back. So, she raised her three boys on her own.
When his mum died, he found out on his birth certificate that it was just his mum’s name but no dad. No father. And dad said to me, “That would explain why when I was a little boy and mum was in hospital and every one of my brothers went to family I was put in an orphanage.”
He had scars on the top of the head from where he was quite mistreated as a child. And it was his mum who protected him.
She apparently got out of her bed in hospital, yelled at her own mother and said, “You never put Anthony in an orphanage. He’s my son.”
And she marched out and got him.
So, family was everything to my dad.”
“My dad was such an influence in my life. He set me on this path in many ways.
I can remember him – I was at my nan and grandads, cause it was a ritual every Sunday to go there – and I can remember my Grandad saying, “I don’t know why you’re encouraging her to have an education. She’s only just gonna leave school and have a family.”
And Dad would say, “No. That is her right.”
I decided at 21 and a half after finishing uni to come out here for three months. Then I phoned up to say ‘I’m going to stay’.
You can imagine. That was huge. But my Dad supported me. It caused massive problems between my Mum and Dad but Dad said, “No. Don’t be tied down by us. You will have a better life being out there.”
In some ways I’m living his dream. He always wanted to live here.
My last image of my Dad is him saying goodbye to me at the airport. I knew Dad had been unwell. I knew I wasn’t going to see him again.
I can still cry even now. He was everything to me.
And then I had this dream.
I can remember he always used to wear shorts and an Akubra when he went walking. And he was walking and I was chasing after him and I’m saying, “Dad. Dad don’t go. Come back. I need to talk to you.”
And he turned round and he said to me, “No.”
I said, “But there’s all this stuff happening.”
And he said, “No, let it go. I have to go.”
And then he turned and he went.
It was so vivid that I woke not sure if it was a dream as it had felt so real.
Interestingly, my siblings also had similar visits from Dad. My sister saw him in her kitchen window doing his famous wave. My brother saw him in the airport hangar doorway he worked in waving then turning before he left.
We all felt like we were going a little crazy and yet we all felt the same: he came to say goodbye personally.
So, I know he’s waiting. He’s there. And when I go, I will see him again.”