Dad’s heartbreaking letter to his children after he died following private cancer battle

David Donald - pictured in the middle of the group with his sons James, Dave, Bryan and Ashley. He also had a daughter Lucy.
David Donald - pictured in the middle of the group with his sons James, Dave, Bryan and Ashley. He also had a daughter Lucy.
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A CARING dad protected his ‘heartbroken’ children from his private battle with terminal cancer – with them only discovering his pain in an emotional letter after he had died.

Lifelong Paulsgrove resident and Pompey fan David Donald died aged 68 last month after a 15-month battle with mesothelioma – a progressive asbestos-related cancer.

The poignant letter David Donald left behind for his family

The poignant letter David Donald left behind for his family

But despite finding out the devastating news in January 2017, brave David concealed his personal torment from his beloved sons and daughter to avoid upsetting them.

His children James, Dave, Bryan, Ashley and Lucy were left ‘shocked’ but ‘proud’ of their dad after reading a letter he had penned on his deathbed.

In the letter he said: ‘The reason I did this was because I didn’t want you worrying or fussing over me or treating me any different.

‘I’m not sure how long I’ve got left. I would prefer if you didn’t see me as I wouldn’t want you to remember me that way.’

The way he was - a treasured family picture of David Donald

The way he was - a treasured family picture of David Donald

The letter concluded: ‘Anyway, remember I love you more than anything in the whole wide world and am so proud that you were my kids and your old man. Dad.’

And now the children have spoken out about their pride in their dad’s bravery. Son Ashley said: ‘We are all heartbroken and shocked at the outcome of this illness he was diagnosed with just 15 months ago that we were totally unaware of.

‘It’s such a dangerous and cruel disease that can take someone away so quickly. We’re glad he had his partner Patsy to help him through it all, though.

‘It comes as a great shock to all those who knew him including friends, family and those in the community where he grew up. He was a father who had a heart of gold and and was such a down-to-earth and caring man. We read a poem at his funeral that reflected the man he was.

‘He was a big Pompey fan and shared his passion with his sons by going to home and away games and always talking about Pompey when we met up at our nan’s house.’

Born in March 1950, David was an electrician in his late teens and early 20s but went on to work on the railways before retiring after 40 years service in 2016.

He grew up near Paulsgrove where he lived for 66 years before moving to West Leigh Park with his partner Patsy.

The children’s mum and David’s former wife, Davina Donald, added: ‘It’s just so heartbreaking that he suffered so much. He didn’t deserve any of it.’

David’s heart-felt letter to his five children ...

‘To my dear beautiful boys and daughter Lucy. By the time you read this hopefully you will know what the score is with me and that I ain’t got long left in this world.

It’s a b*****d I know but I’ve known about how ill I would become and what the final outcome would be for me for 15 months.

This was my idea and in no way influenced by Patsy who just left it completely up to me, whatever I told you or not.

And the reason I didn’t want you to know was because I didn’t want you worrying or fussing over me or treating me any different.

Remember in no way was I influenced by Patsy in any decision I made.

I have to say she was my rock to lean on all of this time and I really don’t know how I would have got through all this without her.

Also it would be good to know that if she needed any help packing stuff up or moving then one of you would put yourself out to help her if she phoned you up.

I’m not sure how long I’ve got left, a few days or a week. I can understand if you want to come up and see me but to be honest I would prefer if you didn’t.

I wouldn’t want you to remember the way I look now and the chances are I’ll be out of it anyway because I’m drugged up to the eyeballs and would not know you’re there anyway.

Anyway, remember I love you more than anything in the whole wide world and am so proud that you were my kids and your old man. Dad.’