Mum who lost partner in South Shields roof-fall accident to take on Great North Run in his memory

The partner of a man who died after a roof-fall accident is to take on her first Great North Run in his memory.

Thursday, 21st April 2022, 12:17 pm

Derek Heslop, affectionately known as Dez, was only 23 years old when he slipped and fell 15ft from a roof in South Shields, sustaining a severe head injury.

His partner Rebecca Ward was six months pregnant with their first child at the time of the tragedy, which happened just days into his new role as a roofer in 2014.

The Great North Air Ambulance Service (GNAAS) airlifted him to the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle where he remained in an induced coma for seven days. Sadly he did not survive.

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Dez Heslop cradling Rebecca Ward's bump

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Now, Rebecca is set to complete the 13.1 mile run in Derek’s memory and to raise funds for GNAAS as a thank you for doing all they could to help.

She said: “Unfortunately he didn’t survive after everyone’s best efforts but if it wasn’t for the air ambulance acting as quickly and efficiently as they did he would never have stood a chance.

"Dez was always up for a laugh, loved a party, loved to socialise and loved a challenge. He was also very loving and caring and would do absolutely anything for his family and those he cared for.

Dez Heslop and Rebecca Ward

“This is the part I loved most about him and I knew he would have made an amazing dad. He was so excited to meet our daughter, it even got to the point where he would greet my bump with a kiss before myself.”

Since the incident Rebecca has taken part in a few challenges to raise money for GNAAS and this year she has bought a charity place to take part in the Great North Run and is encouraging others to do the same.

She added: “GNAAS survives on charitable donations so people should buy a charity place to help them continue to save lives and continue their amazing work. I will be forever grateful for how they helped my partner.”

GNAAS have charity places available for the Great North Run, which require runners to raise a minimum of £300. Visit:

Rebecca Ward

To sponsor Rebecca, visit her JustGiving page:

Rebecca and Dez's daughter, Emily