What should have been one of the proudest times in the life of rugby legend Billy Boston and his wife Joan has been overshadowed by the tragic death of their youngest daughter.
About now, final touches should be being made to the magnificent bronze statue to Billy, set to be erected in Wigan town centre, but the plans have been put on temporary hold as the family tries to deal with its grief.
Today, in an emotional tribute to 51-year-old Angela, who lost her brave battle against cancer, her devastated family said: “Our hearts are broken. We are living in a dark void.”
Angela had wanted to live long enough to see her dad’s statue unveiled. But it was not to be.
Speaking at the family home in Hawkley Hall, Billy said: “We have lost the baby of the family.
“How can our lives ever be the same?”
Mother of three grown-up children – Ross, Sean and Zoe – Angela Dainty had a true zest for life and it was when she returned from a family holiday in Mexico last October that she complained of leg pain.
The weeks went by and Angela underwent various tests, all the while carrying on working in the pub she ran in Ormskirk. Then a CT scan revealed the worst possible news. She had terminal pancreatic cancer which had spread.
Joan said: “There was no hope, the doctors said that but Angela was a fighter. Even days before she died in Wigan and Leigh Hospice, she was making plans for the future.”
But already she had planned her funeral to the very last detail.
Billy said: “We were all with her at the end when she died. Even now it’s difficult to realise she’s gone. As our youngest daughter, we spoiled her. And I’m glad we did.”
A service at St John’s RC Church in Wigan was followed by burial in Gidlow Cemetery, where, at the graveside, her family sang her favourite song, “Dance with My Father” which she always enjoyed at family celebrations.
This week the Boston family will take hundreds of pounds in donations to the hospice and there will be a discussion about a permanent memorial.
The family, so moved and grateful for the exceptional care Angela received at the hospice are also supporting this year’s Dedicate a Daisy Appeal.
The project enables people, in return for a donation, to have the name of a loved one handwritten onto a beautiful wooden daisy which can be planted in the hospice gardens or taken home.