Gemma Atkinson has paid a tribute to her late dad as she planned to raise a toast to him on Father’s Day. The 37-year-old actress and broadcaster was just 17-year-old when David passed away from a heart attack.
The former Emmerdale and Hollyoaks actress shared a sweet throwback snap of herself and her father sharing a hug as they smiled for the camera. “And to my dad in the sky will raise a glass to you today,” she wrote on her Instagram Stories.
Gemma, a presenter on Manchester-based Hits Radio, also shared a video clip of her daughter Mia watching the Disney film Moana in Spanish with her fiance Strictly Come Dancing pro Gorka Marquez who is from Bilbao in Spain.
“Today’s Spanish lesson Moana. She watches them in Spanish,” she said proudly. Sharing an adorable montage of doting dad Gorka with Mia since she was born on July 4 2019 she wrote: “Happy Father’s Day! Thanks for everything @gorka_marquez.”
Last year Gemma shared her pain in a moving Instagram post in which she said she still hasn’t accepted her dad’s death in 2002. “Nineteen years ago today my life changed with one phone call,” she wrote alongside images of herself as a child with her dad.
“I still remember mum coming into my room in the middle of the night to tell me dad had died. He’d had a heart attack. Grief sucks. It’s difficult and different for everyone but something we all have to go through.
“One thing I know for sure is that the world keeps turning with or without us and time still passes.” Gemma, who shot to fame as Lisa Hunter in Hollyoaks in 2001, recalled how her loving and caring dad inspired her, and admitted that although she’s learned to adjust she still hasn’t fully accepted her loss.
“Dad always used to say to me ‘don’t let the b******s grind you down,’ she said. He always said to keep on going because better times were coming.
“I learnt to live with my new circumstance and way of life without dad in it. I’ve still not accepted it 100 per cent and I question daily why a loving, present and caring dad would be taken over one that couldn’t care less for his family, but I guess that’s just life.”
She added: “It’s unfair at times but anger and constant looking back gets us nowhere.” And she urged: “To anyone who’s suffered a recent loss and is thinking you’ll feel this way forever I can tell you, you won’t.
“Life moves on and you have to keep going because better times are coming. You will get through it and you will feel strong again. Remember that, and don’t let the b******s grind you down.”
David’s death came as a complete shock to the family because he didn’t smoke, only occasionally drank and was physically fit. Gemma has been a supporter of the British Heart Foundation to support and prevent others going through a similar tragedy.