This is his story.
My Dad was born on the 5th July 1953 into a country that had (more or less) just finished reeling from WWII. He grew in Daisy Hill, an area of Wallsend, not far from Newcastle. He kept the details of his youth to himself for the most part but I do know life wasn't easy for him. A left-handed person in a strict Catholic school was in for many punishments. By the time I came into the world he had developed a pronounced stutter.
My mother already had two children by different fathers, both of whom were black. Please don’t think badly of her, the true life story that led to this highly unusual (for the 70s) situation is far bleaker than any horror I've written. He fell in love with her and raised those kids as his own, accepting and fighting the rampant racism of the time. His selfless and unquestioning love for all of us coloured my view of humanity from an early age.
When I was 10, my mother and father split. In a rare decision, by the standards of the early 80s, he was awarded custody of me and became a single parent. Again, a rarity. I still have a vivid memory of the argument he had at the post office when they tried to refuse payment of Child Benefit to him on the grounds that only mothers collected it. He fought the system, and won. He had no option – without that money we wouldn't have eaten.
Over the next couple of years he sustained our unconventional family by working hard at any job he could find. He worked on a farm, he carried bricks, he laid paving stones and host of back-breaking jobs, all to keep a roof over my head and food in my belly. He never complained, not once.
When I was almost twelve he and a friend made a decision that changed my life and, more importantly, his. He got his hands on some disco gear. All of a sudden my Dad was a DJ and the boy with the stutter had to master a microphone.
Master it, he did. For decades to come he was the DJ to book. Weddings, birthdays, funerals (yes, really!), divorces, Christenings, presentations, the list goes on and on… He made more people dance than any other on the circuit. He was, and remains, a legend.
I know people who were Christened and he did the disco. They had numerous birthday parties and he did all the discos. They got engaged and he did the disco. They got married and he did the disco. And because of his talents, many people love him.
But for me it was different. No matter how much people loved him, I loved him more – he was my Dad. He fed me, he clothed me, he kept a roof over my head and he cared enough to punch me and set me straight when my teenage years threatened to derail me.
Never have I loved anyone as totally and fully as that man.
He married twice more. Each time, he loved the lady but also knew she would enrich my life too. Even when he was falling in love, he looked out for me.
When I fell ill with MS, he stepped in and picked up the pieces. He brought a whole new way of running a bar to the pub I had barely been managing to control. At an age where he would be allowed to wind down he displayed more energy than a far younger man.
At the beginning of 2013, he began to feel ill. Never one to want to worry others, he kept it to himself. Eventually it was noticed and a myriad of possible causes were suggested. He blamed a bad knock to the head while working in the bar’s cellar. We all suspected complications arising from Diabetes.
Before long, a mini stroke became prime suspect. When he was finally scanned in a hospital they found a pair of tumours in his brain. Not wanting to be a disappointment to us (his words, not mine) he vowed to take any treatment they offered.
Within days the man who previously wouldn't even take a headache tablet was having brain surgery. Next was radiotherapy that left him burned, fatigued and balding. His hair, his pride and joy all his life was going.
Still he soldiered on, supported massively by his wife and my younger brother. Through no-one's fault, it wasn't enough. This was one fight he couldn't win.
At 15.59 on Wednesday 22nd May, just a little short of his 60th birthday, my Dad passed away.
Whether you call him Dad, husband, brother, friend, Kev the DJ or the arsehole who put you on Pubwatch, you’ll never forget him. I dare you to try.