The wife of inspirational marathon running cancer campaigning Ben Ashworth has spoken for the first time about his death.Advertisement
Louise Ashworth, 34, was at her husband’s bed-side at their family home in Preston on Sunday 2 July as Ben’s five-year battle with bowel cancer ended.
Speaking to Blog Preston she has described the ‘overwhelming’ feeling of the tributes, memories and love towards Ben since his passing.
Ben, 38, ran dozens of marathons while undergoing chemotherapy and became a focal point for raising awareness of bowel cancer across the media and at events.
Louise, who has helped organise a celebration of his life to take place at Blackburn Cathedral on Saturday (15 July), says it’s been a ‘roller-coaster’ since Ben’s passing.
She said: “I think it’s been amazing to just see the amount of comments and tributes that are coming in.
“I keep thinking ‘what would Ben say’ or think about it all. I know he would have been coming down the stairs shouting ‘there’s half-a-million reach on that post on Facebook’.”
The news of Ben’s death was shared on the Ben’s Bowel Movements Facebook page, set up by Ben to chronicle his cancer battle and share his thoughts and marathon training.
Since then Louise and her family have seen an outpouring of memories of Ben.
He died at their family home in Broadgate, surrounded by his family.
Louise said: “It’s the way he wanted to go. We had talked about it, you have to, I know other people who have lost someone to cancer and they say the same thing.
“It’s quite peaceful when they go, it’s not like when someone dies in a crash or has a heart attack, you do accept that it is coming and we had planned for it. It’s as good as it can be in the circumstances.”
In the final months of his life Ben received treatment from Rosemere Cancer, and Louise is full of praise for the NHS.
She said: “You cannot fault any of it. They were all just superb.
“Especially the district nurses team but also his consultant, the registrar, our GP, just everyone.
“They were so caring and I know they, and the NHS, are under huge pressure. But nothing was too much. I really cannot thank them enough for their care.”
As Ben’s final hours approached he was awarded special recognition by the city of Preston for his fundraising efforts.
He was presented with a ‘Friend of the City’ honour on behalf of the Mayor of Preston councillor Brian Rollo.
Louise said: “He was completely taken aback by it. It was just such a lovely thing to happen.
“At that stage he could only answer with one word, becaue of the effort it took to speak. That word was ‘wow’, just ‘wow’, over and over again.”
Read more: Preston wants a Ben Ashworth Way – here’s how to help make it happen
Louise and Ben have three daughters, Skye, 12, Isobel, seven and Heidi, four, and Louise said they have been open and honest with them about Ben’s cancer.
She said: “For me, for both of us, it was important we’ve just told them what’s happening.
“The idea was that it shouldn’t be a mystery to them. We talked about it.
“We didn’t just say ‘oh Daddy’s tired’, we told them he was unwell. Not using confusing words. He died and you have to tell them that, not try and hide it.”
Hundreds of friends, running club members and family members are expected to join the celebration of Ben Ashworth on Saturday.
Ben was a regular on many North West radio and TV shows, and took his story out there to try and raise awareness of the disease.
Louise said: “I think a lot of people thought Ben was the way he was because of what was happening. But that’s not true, he was always like that. That’s why I loved him.
“He was an optimist and that’s what I loved about him. He was always having a laugh and he did what he did because he was so passionate about getting the word out there.
“He did it for me and the girls I think, he wanted to get us out there and talking to people. And he achieved it.
“I had a friend who was out the other day and a couple of runners came by. They were talking about Ben and how they are coming to the service on Saturday. That was Ben, he got people talking.”
Read more: Ben Ashworth and wife Louise complete the London Marathon
Taking place on Saturday from 5.30pm at Blackburn Cathedral, Louise said the service was called A celebration of life, love, service and faith.
She said: “I just want people to come. And I want to say it doesn’t matter if people only met Ben once, or followed the blog, if they want to come then come.
“I want that Cathedral to be full. We’re going to take the roof off the place and remember Ben.
“I will be saying a few words, as will others who knew Ben, and we just want it to be a celebration.”
Anyone attending can confirm their attendance on the Facebook event and donations can be made to Ben’s Beating Bowel Cancer fund.
Did you know Ben? Will you be attending the service? Let us know and leave your tributes in the comments below