Devastation as dad dies of ‘heart attack’ on Christmas Day

A father died of a suspected heart attack on Christmas Day while he was enjoying the festive occasion with his family.

Gareth Blenkins, aged 40, was “laughing and joking” with relatives and then suddenly collapsed to the floor, clutching his chest. The painter and decorator was dashed to hospital but lost his life on Christmas Day.

Damien Sharpe, Gareth’s heartbroken cousin, said: “He was laughing and joking but then he just clutched his chest and fell to the floor and started having a fit.

“His brain went for too long without oxygen. Unfortunately, he didn’t come round from it.

“He was strong, he’d do anything for anybody, very protective. Sometimes he’d be quite shy but if he noticed you were sad, he’d always say ‘Do you need a Blenkins cuddle?’ I’ll never forget those words.”

Gareth, who had a 15-year-old son who he “lived for”, had only celebrated his birthday in Malaga, Spain, last month with Damien and other family members.

Damien, 42, told Leeds Live: “I know he was loved and I know he touched a lot of people’s hearts. I just want to help the family out – especially with this happening over Christmas. Nobody expected this to happen.”

Gareth had spent Christmas Day with family in Cottingley, Leeds, but suddenly collapsed in the evening after a fun day.

Damien, a lorry driver, said the man was like a brother to him.

Gareth, who was a huge Leeds United supporter, had put all his money towards his son and hadn’t prepared any life insurance or any means to pay for a funeral. His cousin has created a GoFundMe appeal to help raise money for the service, expected to be held in early January.

The fundraiser can be accessed here.

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