Kelsey Parker: It hurts me to tell my daughter that daddy ‘is dead and he’s not coming back’

The widow of The Wanted singer Tom Parker has told ITV News Entertainment Reporter Rishi Davda about how the artist's legacy will change the way brain cancer treatment is funded

When The Wanted’s Tom Parker died earlier this year, he not only left behind adoring fans but a loving family.

Tom married Kelsey and together they had daughter Aurelia and son Bodhi, but in October 2020 he was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer which ultimately took his life.

Kelsey spoke openly about the conversations she has to have with her daughter Aurelia, reflecting on how "she asks me all the time about her dad, what’s her dad doing… It hurts me to say that to her, that he is dead and he’s not coming back."

"To just keep going over it, it is painful and tough."

The Wanted formed in 2009, with Tom Parker, Max George, Siva Kaneswaran, Nathan Sykes and Jay McGuiness. Credit: PA

Tom was a member of The Wanted, who released it’s debut album in 2010. Their hits included Glad You Came, Chasing The Sun, and I Found You.

For Kelsey, hearing Tom’s songs on the radio reminds her of what’s she’s lost.

"Him singing, I can’t listen to his music yet because that really does upset me. On social media things just get thrown out at you and sometimes it will catch me off guard.

"I just think every day is different for me, I can’t explain. Sometimes I’m so happy to see him and other times I think, why did you go? Why have you left me?"

Tom Parker became close with Dave Bolton, who runs the Ahead of the Game foundation. Credit: Dave Bolton

In his final years, Tom turned to Dave Bolton for help. Dave runs a foundation the Ahead of the Game foundation, which provides free rehabilitation to people who have been diagnosed with cancer. 

He was actually diagnosed with the same type of brain tumour as Tom back in 2015 and was only given three months to live.

Speaking about the bond the two formed, Dave said: "We called each other brothers. I only knew him for two years, but when you are going through something so similar, I remember we spoke every day."

"One night he just messaged me and said ‘I’m scared’, this was like one in the morning, I just said ‘phone me.’ That’s why it hit me so hard, I’ve never met anybody like that."

Kelsey and Dave both remember Tom as the life of the party. He was never short of a joke, always delivered with his trademark Bolton accent. 

However, those closest to him noticed a real change after his diagnosis. Kelsey remembers how "he just went into a shell of himself. You need to get out, get walking and go for runs, but he didn’t want to be seen by anyone."

Tom decided to make a difference and spent hours working alongside Dave to raise awareness of brain tumours and call for more funding into research. Dave says that both he and Tom hoped that would be a big part of their "legacy".

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Kelsey has now teamed up with Dave, joining Ahead of the Game and donating the £70,000 she raised following Tom’s death.

It’s been more than three months since he passed and Kelsey is preparing for a number of firsts without her late husband. It’s their wedding anniversary on 14 July.

"I can’t turn those days into sad days, I’ve got to enjoy it. I’ve got to do something to help others and make a difference. That’s what he would want, so that’s what I’m going to do."

Kelsey’s determined to make sure that the work Tom started while he was alive will continue now that he’s gone.