Bereaved children enjoy free day at wildlife park

Ashley Barton and his daughter Willow
Ashley Barton, pictured with daughter Willow, lost his partner to breast cancer when she was just 31 [BBC]

Hundreds of children who have lost a parent or carer to breast cancer were invited to visit a South Yorkshire wildlife park for free.

The day out, organised by Yorkshire Wildlife Park and the Mother & Daughter Breast of Friends Podcast, took place near Doncaster on Saturday.

Organisers said the event was dedicated in particular to recognising and supporting men who were navigating parenthood alone.

Ashley Barton, who lost his partner Terina Jordan to breast cancer aged 31, said the day out had been an exciting and happy one for the children.

Mr Barton, who visited with his six-year-old daughter Willow, his stepson and his stepson's dad, explained how he was coping with grief.

"I try not to get emotional in front of Willow," he said. "But I can't hold it in – if it comes out then it comes out and I've got to be strong."

Esther Allen with her daughter Heidi
Esther Allen visited the park with her daughter Heidi [BBC]

Becky Measures, from the Mother & Daughter Breast of Friends Podcast, helped organise the event.

She said: "So many times, we would watch men, young men, navigating life after losing a partner.

"That navigation involved them working, having to look after children, having to be big and strong.

"We just wanted to have this day really, where we say 'we see you'."

'Quality time'

Esther Allen, 43, who has stage four melanoma, also attended the event with her family.

She is raising funds to have potentially life-saving treatment in Israel.

"As families, we need time to just be together and have quality time together, which is very hard when you're dealing with all the things that come with cancer," she told the BBC.

Her 14-year-old daughter Heidi said family days out "meant a lot".

Several other charities supported the event, including Cavendish Cancer Care and Baton of Hope, a suicide prevention group.

Mike McCarthy, the co-founder of Baton of Hope, said Yorkshire Wildlife Park had provided a "tremendously generous gift" to children and parents facing considerable challenges.

Follow BBC Yorkshire on FacebookX (formerly Twitter) and Instagram. Send your story ideas to

More on this story

Related Internet Links