Death of man consumed by grief

The father of an Egton Bridge man believes his son committed suicide after struggling to come to terms with his mother’s death, 11 years ago.

The body of Mark Atkinson (43) was found in the River Esk near Arncliffe Woods on Sunday August 3.

His father, William “Whacker” Atkinson, said: “He didn’t get over the shock of his mother’s death and he did nothing at all for the last year, but we didn’t think he was that bad. If only he had talked to us a bit more, he might still be here.”

Mark would often go for walks in the area with the family’s dog, Olly, but he did not take the animal on the Friday evening when he went missing.

“He didn’t take Olly that day, which I thought was odd,” said William. “But I thought he had just gone to clear his head.”

After failing to return home the following day, William said he went up to Mark’s room, where he found photographs of his mother laid on the bed.

Mark had few friends, but when he did socialise, he would frequently talk about his mother.

Although his father is the president and longest-serving member of Whitby Sea Anglers’ Association, William said his son never had any interest in the sport and instead preferred speedway racing. From Mark’s childhood the pair had taken trips to the circuit at Redcar to watch events, but these visits had stopped recently. “He used to love it, he was really happy, but after his mother died he never got over it,” said William.

William had met his wife-to-be when she was just 15 and it was love at first sight, with William telling a friend, “that’s the girl I’m going to marry”.

The couple were together 35 years and had three sons named Mark, Edward and Matthew. However, Patricia passed away suddenly 11 years ago.

She had left hospital following surgery but developed a blood clot in her leg and died in her husband’s arms just three minutes later.

William said it took him two years to get over the grief caused by his wife’s death, but the loss hit Mark even harder and he never recovered.

He became reclusive and as a result his building contractor business began to suffer. In the last years of his life he had struggled to find any work.

Now William said he hopes to be there for his two remaining sons, adding: “I’m doing pretty well, considering, but I have got to be strong for them.”