The passing of Rob Daley, the father of the British teenage Olympic diver Tom Daley, is a particularly tragic example of cancer stealing a wonderful person from the world. Another one gone too soon: when will we beat this disease?
Rob’s love of and support for his son was legendary. For years he drove Tom around the country, and travelled around the world with him. He was as proud, loving and supportive a father as one could imagine. In the latter years of his life, he could not fly due to his chemotherapy treatment, but he watched avidly from home. Tom was always on the phone to him within a minute of his dives being completed.
Even a matter of months ago, after doctors had given Rob just weeks to live, he was watching his son from the side of the pool, a tearful figure in a wheelchair. His t-shirt read: ‘Give me oil in my lamp, keep me burning.’ He so wanted to be there to watch Tom compete in the 2012 Olympics. Let’s hope he will still be watching from somewhere, somehow.
I met Rob and Tom last year. Their rapport, banter and love was touching to witness. Talk about entertaining; they were forever joshing and joking with one another. Even though Rob seemed to a casual observer in fine fettle, the legacy of his then four-year battle with cancer could be seen in the way he occasionally lost the thread of conversations.
Last year, the BBC captured the fascinating relationship Tom and Rob enjoyed in a superb documentary Tom Daley: The Diver And His Dad. You can watch the programme on YouTube. If you wish to donate to Rob’s chosen charities, including those who helped him in the testing, closing months of his life, you can do so via a page the family has set-up. Naturally, my sympathies and thoughts are with the Daley family, and all who knew and loved Rob.