Where do we start? There’s so much to tell – as his teacher’s used to say!
Nathan was born on 1st April 1989 and even as a young baby he managed to attract a lot of attention – a charm which became more evident as he grew up into a young man. He was always full of life and as a young boy he wanted to be involved in everything that was going on and his main aim was to entertain.
His favourite characters were Fireman Sam and Superman and we have vivid memories of him in his own “home made” Superman costume consisting of red pants over blue joggers, a blue sweatshirt with a cardboard coloured ‘S’ stuck on the front and a tea towel for a cape! He spent most of his days in this attire, other than when he was dressed as Fireman Sam and had a Butterkist popcorn bucket permanently attached to his head instead of his fireman’s helmet! By this time, younger brother Josh was old enough to join in and he loved following Nathan around and copying everything he was doing.
Nathan loved football and started playing for his local team, May Bank Rovers, and the school team at the age of 6 – and at the age of 11 he represented the City Schoolboys. He was also a strong swimmer and represented the school in the swimming galas.
By the age of 9 Nathan had developed a strong interest in music and bought his first DJ deck which he used to host children’s discos and assist with all the school music productions. By the age of 12 he had a full mobile disco and travelled round most weekends (with the help of dad) to DJ at all sorts of functions from teenage parties and weddings to 80th birthday parties – everybody loved his flamboyant and caring personality.
Wherever he went Nathan attracted an audience without even trying – everybody wanted to be part of his lovely life and were enamoured by his charming personality and zest for life. Somebody once said that when Nathan came into the room it was like saying “Nathan Butler has entered the building – let the fun begin!”.
He also developed an interest in playing cricket at a young age, and played for his local club Porthill Park which during his teenage years became his “second home”. He developed a close relationship with everybody at the club and was affectionately known as “Trigger” – named after the character in “Only Fools and Horses”! Nathan and Josh both loved cricket and their “brotherly bond” became greater as they grew into teenagers and they spent most of their spare time together practising their cricket skills.
Cricket became Nathan’s main sport as a teenager when he was chosen to represent the Staffordshire County Squad at Under 14’s, Under 15’s and Under 16’s – the highlight of this being when he travelled with the Staffordshire Colts to Barbados in December 2004 to play cricket against the West Indies! Sadly this was to be our last family holiday but what a fabulous time we had with memories we will treasure forever.
In his last year at school Nathan had to choose where to go for his work placement week and he decided he would like to go to Signal Radio, our local radio station. However he was disappointed to be told by their producer that they didn’t take school pupils but only took university graduates. Not one to give up easily, Nathan persevered until he was eventually offered an interview and succeeded in being offered a placement. He loved every minute of the week and they were impressed with his enthusiasm and commitment – so much so that they invited him to carry on working with them in the studio and on outside broadcasts – something which he was still actively involved with up to the time of his death. Following Nathan’s death there were many emotional tributes on the radio from the presenters who he had worked alongside.
Nathan left school to go on to 6th form to do a Music Technology Course – a course which he was really enjoying and he was already making plans to do a Music Technology Degree at university with a view to opening his own recording studio (if he didn’t make it as a radio broadcaster!).
Nathan was very ambitious and liked to live life to the full and he worked hard as a football referee and also as a swimming lifeguard to fund all his many hobbies. He also had a job at his beloved Stoke City Football Club waiting on in the banqueting suite on match days. Even though he was only 16 he’d already saved and bought a car – eager for his 17th birthday when he could have his first driving lesson – alas this was never to be.
On 22nd February, 2006 – the day that was to change our lives forever – Phil and I had gone off to work and Josh had gone to school, leaving Nathan in bed as he had a day off college. Although he was very independent he was also very homely and loving and our special relationship meant that we rarely went for more than a couple of hours without being in touch with each other. By midday it was unusual that I hadn’t heard from him and I’d been ringing both on the home phone and on his mobile but still couldn’t get in touch. I wasn’t unduly concerned – little did I know what lay ahead – I returned home in the afternoon to find Nathan on his bedroom floor where he had died that morning.
Post mortem revealed Nathan had died from suspected hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. We have all been for cardiac screening and there is a suspicion that my husband, Phil, also has the condition. He is now a patient at the Heart Hospital in London where further screening is being undertaken, both with Phil and with Nathan’s tissue to ascertain the exact diagnosis.
We still ask and will probably always ask, why? Why such a beautiful popular talented young man who was loved by so many and had so much love to give was taken away from us so tragically. We’ll never know the answer but will always be thankful for the nearly 17 years we had with Nathan and all the special memories that can never be taken away.
We are proud of Josh who is coping well without his soul mate and has been helped greatly by Nathan’s lovely friends who have taken him “under their wing” and continue to include him in everything they do.
It’s very hard to carry on but we keep finding the strength to get out of bed and face the day ahead. We have all been so well supported and loved by our remarkable family and friends who are there for us every inch of our difficult journey in getting used to a life without Nathan.
So far we’ve held several fundraising events and raised in excess of £11,000 which has been shared between CRY and the Nathan Butler Memorial Fund at Porthill Cricket Club, where we are rebuilding a brick stand in Nathan’s memory.
We will continue to support CRY and to raise awareness in an effort to prevent other families from suffering as we are.