Derek Charlton, from Alnwick, died on Tuesday, February 16, after bravely fighting the disease like ‘an absolute lion’. He was 53 years old.
He leaves behind wife of 18 years, Claire, 51, children Tim, 28, Jake, 27, Mollie, 23, and Robyn, 12, and baby granddaughter Harper-Lilly.
Yesterday, his loved ones paid their respects to Derek, who was a caring and doting family man.
Claire said: “Him and I were a team. We knew each other for 20 years and we were pretty much inseparable from day one. He was a lot of fun and he made it easy for me to be a career woman. He was brilliant and I can’t imagine how life can carry on without him.”
Mollie added: “He was very loyal and very protective, particularly with us kids. He was always here, he always supported and encouraged us and he will leave a huge void in our lives.”
Within the community, Derek will perhaps be best known for owning Oscars Bar, on Alnwick’s Narrowgate.
Claire said: “He wanted to own his own business. His first day at Oscars was March 8, 2000, and it was one of the proudest moments of his life and people knew him as Derek from Oscars.
“He allowed people to have fun and he put his own stamp on the place by coming up with different ways for people to enjoy alcohol and Oscars became famous for its treble vodkas. In fact, in the early 2000s, we were Coca-Cola’s biggest individual account in the North East because we were going through so much of it with the vodkas.”
However, it was to be an unhappy ending for Derek, as Oscars was forced to close in 2013 after part of its gable-end wall fell down into neighbouring Bow Alley after heavy rain.
Claire said: “He was devastated. He had a personal and emotional connection to the building. It was his life’s work and he never came to terms with what happened.”
Fittingly, the cortege will stop briefly outside the bar on the day of his funeral, also on March 8.
Prior to opening Oscars, Derek and Claire ran the Bay Horse pub in Dinnington. Earlier in his life, Derek worked in Newcastle, helping to develop the communication skills of young people with disabilities. He was also skilled at Makaton – which is a sign and symbol language.
“He used to teach us children how to swear in it,” remembers Mollie.
Away from work, Derek had a passion for cars and was a massive F1 fan. He went to see the British Grand Prix each year with his close friend Alan Chilvers and current World Champion Lewis Hamilton was his ‘hero’.
Derek was also a movie buff and adored his two black Labrador dogs, Maggie and Milly.
Derek, who was involved in a serious car accident in 2014, was diagnosed with gastric cancer in June last year. However, it didn’t stop Derek from going to the British Grand Prix, with son Tim and friend Alan, a month later.
Sadly, the disease spread and Derek’s health deteriorated. He was able to enjoy a holiday to Tenerife last month, before losing his battle last week.
Claire said: “He fought it like an absolute lion. He was the bravest man I know.”
Mollie added: “When he first got diagnosed, he was told that he could have three months, or three years. But he said ‘you don’t need to worry because I will stay for another 15 years’. He was determined that he would be in control, and that was very much how it was.”
The family have praised HospiceCare North Northumberland and all of the medial staff who helped Derek. They have thanked the community for all of the messages of tribute and condolence they have received. “It’s comforting and nice to know people outside the family loved him as much as we did,” said Mollie.
Derek’s funeral will be at Alnwick’s St Michael’s Church at 10am, followed by a celebration of his life at Alnwick Rugby Club. Both are open to everyone and people are being encouraged to wear what they like. Claire said: “Derek was a bit of a rebel when it came to his dress sense, so we want people to wear what they like and whatever they feel comfortable in.”
Money raised on the day will go to a number of charities, including HospiceCare. Donations will be instead of flowers, because Derek was not a flower person.
Claire said: “There won’t be any flowers because Derek wasn’t into them. Once, several years ago, he bought me a pineapple instead of flowers. They were exotic at the time and it had foliage on the top, so for Derek, that counted.”