Birthday tribute party was final wish of devoted Nelson dad and husband who bravely battled cancer twice

Just as he had wanted there was food, a DJ and karaoke at Colne Royal British Legion Club to make for the perfect party to mark what would have been Darren Wilkinson’s 43rd birthday

Darren, a self-employed joiner, wanted his new wife Kaela, daughters Kaitlyn (19) and Grace (15), step children Ruby (13), Ryan (11) and Lilly (eight) to get together with other family and friends for a celebration even though he knew that he wouldn’t be there.

Darren, of Nelson, died in February. He lost his life to skin cancer, which he had previously battled but which returned shortly after he had reached his five years all clear milestone in March, 2020. This time, the skin cancer came back as secondary brain cancer.

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Kaela, who organised the Colne party as a celebration of Darren’s life, raising £2,800 for Rosemere Cancer Foundation in thanks for the care and treatment Darren received, said: “When I met Darren in 2017, I knew he had been treated for skin cancer. He had a scar on the top of his head but he was fit and well.

Kaela and Darren Wilkinson on their wedding day in July, 2020 (photo by Peter Anslow)

“We booked our wedding for April, 2020, but in the March, Darren began to suffer bad headaches. After tests, we were told his cancer had returned.”

The couple postponed their wedding until July 2020. Kaela said: “Darren was very family orientated. He liked getting everyone together and always made the effort. He was loved by everyone who met him and he will always be remembered for his big smile.

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“As the pandemic meant we were restricted on the number of people that could attend his funeral, it seemed fitting to get together to celebrate Darren when he would have been celebrating his birthday.

"I would like to thank everyone who came to the celebration and who donated to Rosemere Cancer Foundation, including the many local businesses that supported our raffle.”

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Family and friends gathered in Darren's honour to celebrate what would have been his 43rd birthday (photo by Peter Anslow)

As well as helping Rosemere, Kaela put together four hampers – a chocolate hamper, a wine hamper, a beauty hamper with hand creams, facemasks and lip balms plus a tea, coffee and biscuits hamper.

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Each one contained five lots of equal goodies, which she dropped off for the local district nursing team.

Kaela added: “When Darren was very poorly, we had district nurses visiting us every four hours. They not only looked after Darren but made sure I was okay too.

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"They were brilliant.”

Rosemere Cancer Foundation works to bring world class cancer treatments and services to cancer patients from throughout Lancashire and South Cumbria being treated at Rosemere Cancer Centre, the region’s specialist

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cancer treatment and radiotherapy centre at the Royal Preston Hospital, and also at another eight local hospital cancer units across the two counties, including those at the Royal Blackburn and Burnley General Teaching


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The charity funds cutting-edge equipment, clinical research, staff training and innovative services and initiatives that the NHS cannot afford in order to make patients’ cancer journey more effective, comfortable and stress-free. For further information on its work, including how to make a donation, visit