Family take comfort that tragic Peter and Jak are together

Peter Ashton, left, met Jak Trueman while they were both undergoing treatment.
Peter Ashton, left, met Jak Trueman while they were both undergoing treatment.
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The family of a tragic cancer teen have said they have found comfort in the thought he is in heaven with a close friend who also battled the disease.

Peter Ashton, 14, struck up a friendship with Jak Trueman during their treatment at the Sick Kids hospital.

Peter, from Mayfield, died on Tuesday morning after posting a heartbreaking online post which said that his body had “given up the fight” against leukaemia.

His father Jason said that he believed Jak - who died of a rare blood cancer in February - was now looking after Peter.

Newbattle Community High pupil Peter had a room in Ward 2, which was next door to 15-year-old Jak, from Mid Calder.

Due to the severity of their illnesses and the extensive treatment they were receiving, they were often confined to their rooms, but kept in touch by shouting through the doors and sending upbeat messages via their relatives.

They were united in their love of football and enjoyed a friendly rivalry as Peter was a Hearts fan, while Jak was a Rangers supporter.

News of Jak’s death in February hit Peter hard, but the families have kept in touch and tried to support each other through the unthinkable.

“When Jak passed, Peter got really upset about it. I know Jak will be taking care of him up there,” Mr Ashton said. “When something happens in Ward 2, it affects everybody. Saying goodbye to [Peter], that was the worst thing, we knew that was the end of it for us.”

Jak’s mum Allison Barr told the News: “We just unfortunately know exactly how they feel. I have been in touch with his gran quite closely. It’s devastating, no child should have to go through this. It’s just awful.”

She said she would always remember Peter, who was in his third year at high school, as a happy-go-lucky young man who was kind to others.

“He was just a laugh,” said Ms Barr. “He was always joking and laughing, he was a wee soul. A lot of the time when the kids are in the hospital, they are not allowed out of their rooms. But their doors were next door to each other, so they would shout through. It’s just like one big family, everybody has this unwritten bond and understanding about what everyone is going through. We will definitely be keeping in touch.”

Peter’s one wish was to have a “man cave” in his back garden, where he could spend time with his friends, relax and watch TV.

The John Hartson Foundation agreed to make his dream a reality - but sadly, he died before he could see the finished creation.

His dad said: “He didn’t want to go to America, all he wanted was a place at the back that he could go and get peace and quiet with his friends.

“The slabs have been laid and the hut is due to arrive, but sadly it’s too late. They are still going to build it for [his sister] Gemma, so she can have some quiet time.”

Gemma, 12, was hoping to have her big brother by her side when she starts at Newbattle Community High later this month.

“It’s going to take us a long time to get over this. We have got a strong family,” said Mr Ashton. “We always cuddled Peter but in the last week he was in hospital we couldn’t do that because of the machines. That hurt a lot.”

He described Peter as an “absolute character” who always thought of others; even when he was ill, he donated to a foodbank and to a children’s charity as he couldn’t bear the thought of children in poverty. Peter also helped to support the younger children in the ward.

Peter’s gran Joan Croach, of Danderhall, said the youngster had helped her pull through her own battle with leukaemia in 2009.

She said: “We just couldn’t imagine life without him - he’s just my wee braveheart. He was so kind to everybody and he tried to look after the wee ones.

It’s just so hard to take it in, we were all there with him when he passed. I just miss his cheeky smile. I don’t think anybody had a bad word to say about him.”

Peter’s grandad Tam used to take him to the horse races at Musselburgh and Kelso, but plans to take him to the Scottish Grand National at Ayr in April had to be scrapped because he was so ill.

Mrs Croach added: “I’m so proud that he was my grandson and that I had the privilege of being part of his life.”

Plans for Peter’s funeral are still being finalised, however the youngster requested that mourners wear football colours rather than black ties.