On the 24th May 2008 our precious, kind, loving, gentle son Matthew died suddenly in his sleep, he was 29 years old.
Matthew had travelled down to London with his life long friend Eddie to attend the wedding of his friend Jon to Pam. Matthew had met Jon when they were both students at Northampton University and they had been good friends ever since.
We last saw Matthew on the 21st May when he had come to watch the football (Chelsea v Man United) with his Dad and Granddad. I remember his Dad asking him if he was coming for his tea on Friday but he had said (in his own words) “I can’t Dad, I am travelling down to London for the cockney wedding”.
Matthew travelled down to London the day before the wedding with Eddie, they dropped their bags off at their hotel and fortunately they met up with the groom Jon later that evening and Jon later told us that he hoped it gave us comfort to know that Matthew was very happy on his last night.
Eddie found Matthew slumped in his bed the following morning and he later told us that the room was very calm and that somehow he knew that Matthew had died.
The paramedics and ambulance were called but there was nothing they could do and we were told later at his inquest in Walthamstow that he would barely have felt anything and that he would have died within seconds.
Our daughter Rebecca contacted CRY who gave us so much help and we were screened in Manchester in October and we were all found to be normal. It is still, 14 months on, hard to believe how our happy, tall, strong, healthy son set off to his friends’ wedding so happily and died so suddenly. There was absolutely no indication that there was anything wrong with Matthew and we are grateful that Matthew packed so much into his 29 years.
He lived life to the full, he thoroughly enjoyed his social life and loved his job – he was a support worker for the National Autistic Society which suited him down to the ground as he was such a loving, caring young man. He was always ready with a hug and a kiss and to tell you how much he loved you and of course we always made sure he knew how much he was so greatly loved. How we miss those hugs and kisses, the sound of his voice and his ability to wind you up and stand there with a big grin on his face and laugh at you.
He was always asking his younger sister Rebecca and her partner Chris when they were going to make him an uncle and his baby niece Katie is due any day now. He would have so loved to be an uncle but I am sure he will be Katie’s guardian angel and Katie will be told all about her special Uncle Matthew.
We will never forget that Saturday morning when the doorbell rang and I answered it to find the police asking to come in. We were told that Matthew had died but the policewoman could not give us any further information as to how he had died and at that time in London there had been a lot of stabbings so all sorts of terrible scenarios were running through our heads.
Steven (Matthew’s Dad) managed to get in touch with the Coroners Office that weekend and we were told about the possibility it could have been SADS that killed Matthew but that a post mortem would have to be held. Matthew died on the Saturday and it was late on the Wednesday evening before he arrived back in Lancashire and we got our beloved son back.
On the Monday after he had died lots of Matthew’s friends came to our house all talking about him and telling us tales of what he had got up to – even making us laugh. I remember sitting next to my husband and him saying to one of Matthews’s friends how good it was to hear how well liked and popular our son was and his friend replied “not well liked – well loved”. It was also amazing the amount of tributes and special messages left on Matthew’s Facebook wall after he died, which still continue to this day.
Matthew’s funeral took place on the 3rd June, the crematorium was packed and people were standing outside to pay their last respects. Eddie and Matthew’s university friend Richard, a fellow northerner with whom Matthew became the best of friends at university, spoke so movingly at his funeral with their tributes to Matthew.
Matthew loved his music and Eddie and Rebecca chose the music to be played at the funeral service. Matthew always had his earphones and his iPod on and we used to have to wave and jump up and down to get his attention but I suppose many parents can relate to that.
We travelled to Walthamstow at the end of July for Matthew’s inquest where we were told that Matthew had died from natural causes – Sudden Adult Death Syndrome. It is so cruel that you only find out about this silent killer when it is too late.
In December 2008, Matthew’s Nana and Granddad celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary and instead of presents they requested that guests donated to CRY. We (Matthew’s Mum and Dad) and three of Matthew’s aunties took part in the Church and Oswaldtwistle Charity Walk in May and on the same day his cousins Daniel and Rachel along with Rachel’s husband Malcolm took part in a 10km fun run in Blackpool.
We also held the Matthew Steven Wallbank Memorial Dinner Dance at the Dunkenhalgh Hotel to raise funds for CRY and recently Matthew’s Grandma has died and his Granddad asked for donations to CRY instead of floral tributes. Once all the money has been gathered in we will be handing over cheques in Matthew’s memory in excess of £7100.00.
Matthew’s friend Eddie, together with his other friends Nick, Mike, Richard, Paul and John are undertaking a 6 peaks and a bike challenge in September to raise money for 4 worthy charities one of which is CRY in memory of Matthew. (http://www.madness4charity.co.uk)
We know that Matthew chose his friends wisely and this has never been more apparent than in the weeks and months since his death. One of his friends, Iain, travelled from the United States to be able to help carry Matthew’s coffin along with 7 of his other friends at his service.
Our lives, like all these other stories on this website, have changed forever. We are now walking a different path without our wonderful son. Nothing prepares you for the loss of your precious child and the pain does not diminish.
We have our lovely daughter, who misses her big brother so much, and soon a granddaughter and we are so thankful we had 29 special years with Matthew and 29 years of wonderful memories – we dare not look ahead to the years without him but instead try to focus on the years we had with him. One day we will be re-united and until that day we know he will walk beside us every step of the way.
You are, Matthew, a treasure beyond measure. God bless sweetheart.
Lesley & Steven Wallbank