Fond farewell as an inspirational superhero loses battle with cancer

Running pals: Ric Clark with his Ian Jones who was also in remission from cancer
Running pals: Ric Clark with his Ian Jones who was also in remission from cancer
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“He was a superhero and he’s left us two sidekicks behind to carry on his legacy.”

These are the words of Leonie Clark, whose husband Ric lost his fight for life after being diagnosed with incurable cancer.

He was a superhero and he’s left us two sidekicks behind to carry on his legacy

Leonie Clark

The dad-of-two from Penwortham overcame stomach cancer last year, but was told in the summer he had incurable peritoneal cancer, that metastasised from his first tumour.

Ric, 35, who fund-raised tirelessly for charity, died last week in St Catherine’s Hospice.

Leonie, 33, Ric’s wife of nine-and-a-half years and partner of 14 years, said: “We kind of grew up together.

“Because we were so young when we got together, we’ve spent our adult lives together and people quite often say we’re the same person.”

The keen runner raised money for causes including a charity for the blind, the intensive care unit at Royal Preston Hospital, and, after his diagnosis, Rosemere Cancer Foundation.

Leonie said: “He’s requested donations go to St Catherine’s for the fantastic job they did in the week he was there.”

She said Ric was a “brilliant” dad to their sons Oscar, 7, and Sidney, 5. She said: “He was very hands on.

“I used to work Saturdays sometimes so they would have their ‘daddy day’ - I used to come home to all sorts.

“I can see so much of him in them. It’s lovely that I’ve got that, it would have been possibly harder if we didn’t have the children, because I’ve got something forever now that’s always going to be a part of him.

“He was just pretty cool.”

Leonie said her husband was “positive and brave” right up to the end.

She said: “A lot of people used to call him superhero, because he was very into his superheroes.

“The way he did the charity work as well as having to deal with the life-threatening disease, I don’t know if I would have been able to do the same.”

The pair met while at Manchester University, in the Warrington campus, and Ric worked for BAE systems.

Ric’s victory over stomach cancer was serialised in a column in the Evening Post, but he was told in July he had a second, incurable cancer.

Leonie said: “The second diagnosis was a lot harder.

“He had started to feel unwell so we knew something wasn’t right, the hardest thing was when we were told it was incurable and they weren’t able to operate.”

She said September and October were “fantastic” and the couple celebrated Ric’s birthday with friends, but Ric lived just five days after they were told there was nothing more medics could do.

Leonie said: “When we found out they couldn’t do anything else, the boys came into St Catherine’s and one of the amazing nurses came and spoke to them and said daddy was very poorly and he was going to die. I told them last Wednesday when it happened.

“But they are very resilient. We’ve always been open and honest with them.

“Me and Ric are pretty much the same person - we’ve both been quite calm and brave.

“You can’t change anything. You can fight it as best you can, but what’s going to be is what’s going to be and it’s making the most of a bad situation.”

Ric’s funeral is to be held at 11am today at St Leonard’s Church, Penwortham.

Ric was able to choose his own music, and what he wanted to wear - which includes running trainers.

Leonie said: “As morbid as it is, it’s his day and people are there to celebrate him and the amazing life he had, so let’s do it how he wants it to be done.”

Colleagues and charity leaders have paid tribute to Ric.

Shared services managing director at BAE Systems, Steve Fogg, said: “My knowledge of Ric grew from the point I heard the story of his illness and the charitable work he started.

“It is amazing how, reading his blogs and listening to his friends and colleagues, I made a real connection to this great man’s story.

“There is no doubt Ric has suffered but his bravery and his charitable work is just inspirational.

“While his loss fills everyone with sadness his positive impact and presence will be felt in the business for many years to come.

“My deepest condolences to his wife Leonie and their two children, Oscar and Sid.”

Chief officer of Rosemere Cancer Foundation, Sue Thompson, said: “Over the last couple of years, we have all got to know and love Ric for his brilliant sense of humour, big beaming smile and his generosity of spirit.

“He fought his cancers with tremendous bravery, never giving up on his fight to live life to the max and to battle through for his family and friends.

“He humbled us all with his amazing sporting feats that raised more than £15,000 for us during this time. He was a wonderful man, whose goodness will always preserve his memory.”

Sister Barbara Sutton, from St Catherine’s Hospice, said: “Ric’s incredible positivity and unwavering commitment to his family and community was truly inspirational. We were pleased to provide a setting where he and his family could enjoy time together and we remain here for them through the bereavement services .”