The wife of a South Shields dad who tragically died following a series of medical problems has opened her heart for the first time to pay tribute to the man who ‘made every day happy’.
Luke Wilkinson 37, from Marsden, had moved to Kuala Lumpur with his family after taking a job as an engineer, but after contracting several infections, collapsed while on holiday in Singapore.
He was diagnosed with liver failure as a result of the medication he was receiving and was flown home with his wife Di, 34, and children Jude, six, and Finn, three, for treatment.
Loved ones believed he was on the road to recovery, but he sadly took a turn for the worse and passed away at the Freeman Hospital, in Newcastle, in October 2016.
Now five months on from his death, his wife Di has spoken of coming to terms with life without him back in the UK.
She said: “Luke was a really intelligent man, he researched everything. “He was really health conscious, but he caught a parasite in Jakarta - where he was stationed last year - from the food and water.
“Other infections came along with it and due to the medication he was on to treat it he suffered from liver failure.
She continued: “We are back in the UK now and the kids are at school and nursery.
“I have taken a job at Be Modern in Bede where I used to work.
“Finn is still asking when we a re going home to Kuala Lumpur, but Jude understands why we are here.
“I talk about Luke with them and say to them; ‘where dad is now is where we live, but we are given time on earth to experience things and daddy has gone back now.’
“I have told them that we will see him again when we finish our trip and that he can come back in different forms.
“Sometimes the kids put breakfast out for their dad, or think that the automatic light in the cupboard is switched on by him.
“Finn says he remembers the hugs his dad gave him.
“I still think he is watching the kids growing up and achieving things. “I still think he is experiencing the happy times with us.”
After Luke was taken ill abroad, it was thought at the time he needed a liver transplant, Di launched an appeal to raise funds to fly Luke home.
Fortunately, their health insurance came through, which paid for Luke’s flight and on returning to the UK, surgeons confirmed he did not need the transplant.
On the funds Di said: “I want to say thank you to everyone who pulled together for us. “I have opened back accounts for both the kids and the money has been halved between them which they will be able to use in the future.
“Luke wanted the kids to be able to do what they wanted to do, he just wanted the kids to be happy.”
A coroners report is being prepared with an inquest set to be heard later this year.
Paying tribute to Luke, Di said: “He made me so happy.
“I remember one of the first things he asked me was, ‘what do you want most from life’ and I said happiness. He gave me that the whole time.
“We lived a lifetime in such a short space of time.
“He made every day count and every day special. “He was great in every aspect of life.
“He was a great husband, a fantastic dad, friend, worker, brother and son.
“He didn’t lack anything - in every aspect of his life he gave 110%.”
Luke leaves behind dad Derek Wilkinson, mum Christine Elsender and her partner John Elsender.
He also leaves his brother Neil Wilkinson and his wife Dannii Wilkinson, their children Brook, Sharna and Owen.
As well as Di’s mum Nittaya Brennan and brother Christy Brennan, his partner Brooke and their children Roman and Freddy Brennan.
Di also credits ‘Dean and Natalie Coates, who are part of their ‘Malaysian family’ as being a huge support.
She said: “I believe that everything happens for a reason, though sometimes we don’t know what that reason is.
“I am just trying to stay positive and be as happy as I can for the kids.
“I think they have been a massive help throughout it all.
“Luke was the pillar of the family and he was the glue that held us all together.”