Family’s devastation as football-mad Jak dies aged 10

editorial image

The family of a 10-year-old boy who died from a ruptured heart artery have told of their devastation and pride over his young life.

Football-mad Jak Fada, of Westoe, South Shields, tragically died in hospital on Monday, hours after complaining of chest pains.

He was perfect in every way

Ashley Tomlin

The Westoe Crown Primary School pupil was referred by his GP to the accident and emergency department at South Tyneside District Hospital.

Medics battled to save him, but he tragically passed away, devastating family members including mum Ashley Tomlin and dad Tony Fada.

They say the family will always treasure the happy memories of the times they had with Jak.

Ashley, 32, of Coleridge Avenue, Westoe, said: “Jak’s smile lit up a room and that’s one of the things we’ll always remember.

“Every picture I have of him in my house has him smiling on it. He was just that kind of boy, and always so happy.

“He was perfect in every way.”

Jak had a heart condition when he was younger, but was given the all-clear at the age of five.

He attended Westoe Crown Primary School, and was a goalkeeper for his school team.

He also took part in weekly coaching sessions at South Shields Football Club, and regularly took part in holiday coaching courses put on by the club.

Jak was also a keen fan of the Mariners, and went to every home match after getting a season ticket, while he was at Wembley to see his beloved club win the FA Vase in May.

Ashley added: “He was in a box at Wembley for the FA Vase final and absolutely loved it.

“He said to his granddad that it was the best day of his life, and it’s a day that we’ll always treasure.”

As well as being a keen fan, Jak was also a talented player, and Ashley says football coaches often remarked on his ability as a goalkeeper.

Jak’s passing came less than a day after his great-grandfather, James Tomlin, passed away. Jak’s middle name was James, after his relative.

The family is now trying to come to terms with the double tragedy.

Ashley said: “The support we’ve had has been amazing.

“It has been astounding, really, to see how many people Jak influenced in 10 short years.”

Among the others devastated by Jak’s untimely passing are his grandparents Keith Tomlin and Gillian Tomlin, who Ashley describes as his “best friend”.

Keith has paid tribute to South Shields Football Club, with the funeral service and wake for Jak to be held at the club’s Mariners Park home on Wednesday.

He said: “We can’t thank South Shields Football Club enough for what they have done.

“The service and wake will be held at the ground, and they’ve given us use of the marquee, and facilities, free of charge. They wouldn’t take a penny from us.

“It’s an amazing gesture from them and the whole family hugely appreciates it.”

Football club’s tribute

A spokesman for South Shields Football Club said: “The club is deeply saddened to have learnt of the untimely and tragic passing of Jak Fada, at the age of just 10.

“Jak was a keen fan of the Mariners, and followed us both at home and away.

“He also participated in the weekly development centre at Mariners Park, and was a regular at community events hosted by the club.

“The thoughts and prayers of everyone at the club are with Jak’s family and friends at this unimaginably difficult time, and we wish to send our sincere condolences to them.

“As a mark of respect, a minute’s applause will be held in memory of Jak prior to the first-team’s home game against Droylsden on Saturday, November 18.”

South Shields FC player Barrie Smith, who led a number of coaching courses attended by Jak, added on Twitter: “This is absolutely heartbreaking news.

“All of my thoughts are with Jak’s family and friends at this time.

“He took part in all of my football courses and was a lovely lad. RIP.”