Husband to carry Olympic Torch through Newport in wife’s memory
A FATHER-OF-TWO is to pick up the Olympic Flame in his late wife’s honour after she died of cancer just three months before she was due to be a torchbearer.
Dr Helen Patterson, 49, was chosen to carry the torch in Newport this Saturday after being nominated by her husband Paul Barden.
He put her name forward after she was diagnosed with angiosarcoma – a rare cancer of the blood vessel lining – in March last year.
But the mother-of-five succumbed to the disease in April – days after celebrating her daughter’s eighth birthday, which she had so wanted to live to see.
Now, in an emotional tribute to his late wife, Mr Barden has agreed to hold the flame aloft on her behalf.
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“It is an honour for me to carry the torch in Helen’s memory, and I’m proud the children will be there too. They’re really looking forward to the day,” he told the Reporter.
“When I told Helen I’d nominated her, she just thought it was another one of her husband’s mad schemes. But she was quietly pleased, even though she knew her prognosis meant she might not be alive to carry the torch.”
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The 51-year-old went on to praise his wife for the way she dealt with her ordeal, adding: “Helen handled her illness so well. It was a terrible blow when she received her diagnosis. She loved her life.
“But she just accepted what was happening and got on with things – it was pretty remarkable.
“The hardest thing for Helen was leaving her children behind – she hated that. She was determined to live for her daughter’s birthday and managed to join in on the day, too.”
Dr Patterson, who lived in Cambridge, was a lead clinician for prostate cancer at Addenbrooke’s Hospital and had studied sarcoma for her PhD.
She had five children, Isaac, nine, and Sarah, eight, with Paul, and three others: John, 18, and twins Robert and Mark, 15, from a previous relationship.
“The kids have been wonderful,” Mr Barden added. “Isaac and Sarah completed the Race for Life on Sunday and had pictures of their mum on their T-shirts.
“It was the same race Helen had run last year, just a few months after she’d received her terminal diagnosis.
“She was always a keen fundraiser and was determined not to let her illness slow her down.”
Mr Barden has set up a fundraising page for donations in Helen’s memory. The charities are Sarcoma UK – which gives support to patients, and funds research into the cancer – and the Arthur Rank Hospice, which provided nursing care so his wife could spend her last few weeks at home.
To donate to the charities in her memory visit uk.virginmoneygiving.com/PaulBarden