27th Jun, 2022

Daughter writes novel after dad dies while walking with baby granddaughter in park

A DEVOTED daughter has written a novel about the difficulty of ‘saying goodbye’ after her dad died suddenly while walking with his granddaughter in a Kenilworth park.

Katy Colins, whose bride-turned-backpacker upheaval made national headlines in 2012 after she was ditched at the alter, sold her house and travelled the world, described the day of her dad’s death as the darkest in her life.

Dad Colin Gough was 62 when he suffered a heart attack while pushing six-month-old Everleigh in a pram through Castle Farm in 2017.

Katy was called by her aunt to say her dad was in hospital after a fall and did not know where Katy’s daughter – with now husband journalist John Siddle – was.

After a series of frantic calls she learned Everleigh was being looked after by police before an officer arrived to break the news about Colin who passed away in the ambulance after several attempts – including by passersby – to revive him.

And 18 months on, Katy has published How to Say Goodbye – the story of about a funeral arranger which draws on Katy’s own devastating loss.

The 34-year-old former public relations officer, who has had four other books published, said she deleted an entire manuscript to write her latest novel which was ‘bursting out of her head and heart’.

Katy called grief the ‘last taboo’ and said people were just ‘expected to deal with it and move on’.

But by learning to cope with her grief, the writer was also inspired to embrace life – something reflected in the novel’s brooding heroine Grace Salmon.

Before the recent book launch Katy, who after her wedding ordeal was famously dubbed ‘the Backpacking Bridget Jones’, shared her anticipation on her blog ‘Not Wed or Dead’.

She wrote: “I can’t hide from the fact that there will be someone missing on publication day who would have been the proudest of all. My dad was such a huge part of my writing life. As an avid reader he was fantastic at bouncing ideas off, helping with sticky plot points and coming up with great ‘why didn’t I think of that?!’ suggestions.

“He would rearrange the shelves in the local library so that mine took centre stage. He would pretend to read the foreign editions, despite not knowing a word of Polish or Danish, and he would beam with pride whenever I got a five star review.

“He is such a huge part of How To Say Goodbye, even if he doesn’t know it. The novel is dedicated to him. He is there on every page. It just breaks my heart that he will never get to read it as I think he would rather like it.

“I had no idea how I would put one foot in front of another after that day, but Grace’s story felt like it was bursting out of my head and my heart, desperate for me to tell. It meant dealing with my own experiences of grief, death and funerals. It meant going deep into myself to open the box marked ‘do not open’ that contained all I learnt after losing my dad so suddenly and tragically.”

Visit www.notwedordead.com to read more about Katy’s story.

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