FRIENDS and loved ones have rallied to support a mother and son secure a home following her husband’s sudden cancer diagnosis.
James Roocroft, who was the site manager at Elm Grove Primary School in Brighton, has died at the age of 43.
A funeral was held today for the “kind and driven” father-of-one, who “touched the lives of many”.
James was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer last summer and was told he had between six and eight months to live, with chemotherapy.
He was living in a bungalow on site at the school with his wife Emma and their two-year-old son Archie, but knew they would have to move out before he died.
Following his diagnosis, James’ friend Ben Lowe set up a fundraising campaign to help secure a new home for the family – and the fund has now raised more than £60,000.
Ben, from Hanover, met James 18 months ago when their young sons Archie and Oscar became friends.
He said: “We had become really close and would FaceTime a lot with the boys during lockdown.
“But it was not long before James found out he was unwell. He had started losing weight.
“At first they thought he would have a few more years but the cancer had spread to other parts of his body.
“We had a call where we both ended up crying down the phone to each other. I can’t imagine being in that position.
“He said: ‘Just please look after them for me’.”
Ben set up the GoFundMe page to help Emma and Archie and within 24 hours of the page being updated with James’ story, £5,000 has been raised.
Ben said: “We were in absolute disbelief.
“The crowdfunding helped them secure a flat in Hove and they were able to move in before Christmas and make some lovely memories there.
“James was unbelievably driven and focused. He and Emma had such a get-up-and-go attitude.
“Even when he was ill he would be up and fixing things, and Archie would follow him around with a little plastic drill.
“My wife Cesca and I just clicked with them straight away, and we’re both gutted we didn’t know him for longer.”
Ben added that before he died, James wanted to raise awareness on the importance of life insurance, so families are protected in the worst case scenario.
He said: “One of the most gut wrenching things is James had applied for life insurance before he fell ill but it was not looked at until after his prognosis.
“It was really important to him to raise awareness on this.
“There’s this idea that you get it when you own a home, but these days rent is more expensive anyway.”
Writing on the GoFundMe page, Emma said: “James will be very missed and remembered as a wonderful husband , amazing Dada, dear son , caring brother and very kind and thoughtful friend.
“You will forever be in all our hearts and we will never forget you.”
Ben has kept the crowdfunding page open for donations to help Emma and Archie at this difficult time.
To donate, visit the GoFundMe page.