Ian Millthorpe is a loving and caring dad by any measure of the imagination. When he lost his wife tragically some years ago, Ian was left with the daunting task of raising his eight children alone and without their mother. The whole family took her passing badly, but no one more than Ian.
Just one day before her untimely death to cancer, Angie compiled a very special list for her husband which she called “The Plan.” That list would prove to be a vital tool for this bereaved father and one he would refer to often.
Featured Photo Credit: Ian Millthorpe / Twitter
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Ian and Angie were college sweethearts and always held a special fondness for each other as well as a watertight bond. They prided themselves on raising their eight children the right way, helping them to grow into happy and motived young adults. Everything was going fine until Angie ended up at the doctor’s office.
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It can happen to anyone at any time and sadly it was the Millthorpes’s turn on this occasion. Angie had been feeling under the weather and had some pains so she went to the doctor to check it out. When she was told she had stage four cancer and didn’t have long to live she was beyond devastated as was her loving family.
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While Ian worked for years as a miner in his hometown, Angie was also a hard worker and was looking forward to her future at the age of just 48. She was also a dedicated mother and a good friend and it was indeed tragic when she was diagnosed with cancer even though she had beaten it before at the age of 29. Meanwhile, Ian had no idea how he was going to raise the kids alone.
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Each and every year since Angie died, Ian and the kids go for a walk on the Yorkshire coast as a way to honor their deceased mother. “We’re going to do our annual walk across Thornwick Bay at Flamborough Head, where we’ll pay a visit to Angie’s bench, lay flowers and share memories,” Ian explained, according to a Mirror Online report.
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Ian also spoke about the various spots along the trail where he and Angie would have enjoyed in the past. “We used to lay in that spot as teenagers looking over the bay, so it’s a perfect way to keep her involved. When we used to do the walk with Angie, she’d cook a medium rare steak back at home, with chips, onion rings, mushrooms and sliced tomato,” he recalled fondly.
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As Angie is deceased and cannot cook steaks and chips for Ian and the family, in Ian’s words, “This year I’ll order that from a pub, where I’ll unwrap presents from the kids. My older sons get me Joop or Hugo Boss aftershave as a nod to Angie, as she’d always got me that from them,” he said.
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Before Angie died, she wrote a detailed 15-point plan of rules for Ian that he could use for his kids. As he explained, “Ella usually gets me chocolates in spite of rule 14 – ‘Don’t give them too many sweets’. She’s found a loophole!” He said. The plan also gives instructions and guidance on how to best deal with various issues the children may encounter.
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The rules that Angie wrote in her own handwriting were tear-stained, making them even more special. It must have been terribly hard for Angie to write down the plan, knowing she had only a short time to live. Ian, however, was most thankful that she wrote the list for him.
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Ian and Angie’s story is a true love story if ever there was one. Ian met Angie in the local park one random day years ago when he was just 14. They fell in love on the spot and began dating but little did they know they’de soon end up married and with eight kids at home.
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When Angie realized she didn’t have long left on this Earth she started penning her thoughts for Ian. The plan includes everything from bedtime rituals to screen time, and even to remind Ian to put sunblock on the kids during the summer. Angie covered just about every base, and Ian was sure to take her better advice.
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Angie’s pearls of wisdom have proved very helpful for Ian and so much so that he even employs the same set of rules on all five of his grandchildren. They get just one hour on the computer and need to be home before dark in order to sit down for a nightly family dinner.
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Ian keeps Angie’s list close to his heart at all times and that means literally. His kids often spot him pulling out ‘The Plan” from his shirt pocket and reading it to refresh his memory. The kids know that their dad does everything he can to raise them the way Angie would have wanted.
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Despite the 15-point plan being only 15-points, there was a number 16 on the sheet, but it was erased by Angie. Ian suspects it was an instruction to ensure he looks after himself but he can never be sure. “I miss Angie every day but I really did feel her absence during the birth of our grandchildren. She’d have loved hugging them, just as I do,” he said.
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Ian is clearly a good father and grandfather, and Angie’s list just helped him that little bit more. For their part, the kids are flourishing and Ella is even set to leave school with a 100 percent attendance record and some great grades to boot. Ian spoke about Ella’s first nativity play at school.
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Soon after Ian sat down to watch Ella at the school nativity show at Christmas time, “As I sat down a teacher said ‘Mr Millthorpe, you are in for a real treat’. Then Ella sang a solo number,” he recalled. “I could see the parents turning to look at me. I was almost in tears and I kept looking up wishing Angie could see her too.”
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Despite losing their mom at such a young age, twins Jake and Jade are studying for their GCSEs, and 12-year-old Corey is also doing really well at school. The eldest son, Ryan who is a father himself, is a warehouse worker while brother Reece is a window fitter. The Millthorpes have plenty to be proud of and they would make Angie proud too.
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To make matters even harder, Ian has his own health issues to deal with. Having survived a brain hemorrhage in 2004, Ian also has a chronic lung disease and has trouble breathing due to working for 20 years down in coal mines.
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For Ian, while losing Angie so young was a true tragedy, his health issues are something that he finds even harder to deal with. “The hardest thing I’ve had to deal with is my health. I just want to do right by Angie and my kids. I don’t want to become a burden,” he said.
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For their part, the children do nothing but heap praise on their father who they love and adore deeply. “He’s been so great and supportive. It’s because of him that I want to train as a social worker once I leave school. I want to make a difference to somebody’s life,” Jade said to reporters about her father.
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Ian also speaks of his kids in glowing terms. “I’m very fortunate. I have a bunch of hard-working, caring kids. I’m really proud. My children talk about Angie every day, what their Mam used to do, what she used to say,” he said. “I can never replace Angie – I don’t want to – but I’m determined to do everything that I can to make her proud of our family. Luckily she has made it easier for me.”