River Tyne kayak-tragedy widows tell of their year of hell

TRAGIC TRIO ... from left, Darren and Mark Thorpe, and Gavin Bradley.
TRAGIC TRIO ... from left, Darren and Mark Thorpe, and Gavin Bradley.

THE wives of three men who died in a kayaking tragedy on the River Tyne say their loss has left a “massive hole in their lives that can never be filled.”

The families of brothers Darren and Mark Thorpe and their cousin Gavin Bradley – who died on a kayak trip along the Tyne in Northumberland, from Hexham to Wylam, on Sunday, May 11, 2014 – are today facing up to the first anniversary of their loss.

You just feel like they could walk through the door at any moment, like nothing happened.

Kerry Thorpe, widow

An inquest into their deaths last year concluded they faced an “impossible situation” after getting into difficulties as 30 tonnes of water a second flowed over a pumping station weir on the swollen river at the time they were passing through.

Concrete blocks on the other side of the weir created a back flow, known as a stopper wave, which the men could not escape from after they came off their sit-on kayaks.

Darren Thorpe, 41, left wife Louise, 51, step-children Daryn, 24, and Caroline, 22, and son Anthony, 15.

Mrs Thorpe, of Madeira Terrace, South Shields, said: “You have to try to get on with life, but it leaves a massive hole that will never be filled. You wouldn’t wish it on anyone.”

Mark Thorpe, 39, left wife Kerry, 37, who says she is trying to stay strong for the couple’s daughter, Charlotte, 18.

She says it has been a nightmare year for the families.

She added: “You just feel like they could walk through the door at any moment, like nothing happened.

“You feel like you are just existing. I am living for my daughter, Charlotte.

Louise Bradley, 41, and daughters Molly, 17, and Gracie, nine, are still battling to come to terms with the loss of Gavin, 36.

She added: “It just feels like it happened yesterday. It doesn’t feel like a year.

“It just takes your breath away that you’ve not seen them for a whole year.”

The family will be having a private gathering today and mark the anniversary with a minute’s silence.

Members of the Tynemouth Volunteer Life Brigade – who played a major role in the search operation for the three dads – will also be part of the tribute.

Louise Bradley and Kerry Thorpe have been determined to thank the brigade for their efforts by taking part in a host of charity events over the past 12 months.

They have already completed a number of fundraising feats, including tackling the Great North Run, the annual South Shields Boxing Day Dip, the Allendale Challenge and climbing Ben Nevis.

They also plans to take on the half marathon again and scale Mount Snowdon.

They have raised more than £5,000 for the life brigade – and are hoping to double that amount to honour their work and the lives of their husbands.

For more information, visit the JustGiving page HERE.

www.justgiving.com/kerryethorpe/

Twitter @shieldsgazchris