Widow pays tribute after husband, 45, dies from aggressive brain cancer
- Credit: www.trishthompsonphotography.com
The widow of a 45-year-old who died from aggressive brain cancer a fortnight after getting married has paid tribute to her “beautiful” soulmate.
Norfolk-born Steve Gilmour, of Martham, near Great Yarmouth, spent his life in the county’s Broads area.
A former student of Norwich University of the Arts, the father-of-one worked as a graphic designer and became a recognised face on the city’s music scene.
In fact, it was his musicality that first caught the eye of professional dancer and writer Hannah Colby, 37, back in 2020.
An event organiser, she had booked The Hard Working Blues Band for a gig. Steve, then unknown to her, was the drummer and the pair hit it off instantly.
“I know it’s a cliché but it really was love at first sight,” she said.
“We had something of a whirlwind romance for six weeks, before being forced apart for 10 weeks when the country went into lockdown.
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“We talked on the phone every evening and soon as June came around and restrictions were lifted, I was up the A47 like a bullet.
“After those weeks apart we knew we didn’t want to be apart any longer.”
In November 2020, the couple moved in together in Martham and Hannah was introduced to Steve's new-found lockdown hobby – toy photography. An avid collector of vintage Action Man figures, he started photographing real-effects images while furloughed.
The original aim had been to catalogue his 97-plus collection but, unable to complete the tedious task without honing in on his creativity, he began using smoke, fireworks and explosions to create eye-catching images.
He quickly became a huge presence in the toy photography community and his work has been shared worldwide on social media, television and in newspapers.
Hannah added: “The more broken and battered the figures were, the better. He always said to me there is nothing sadder than an unopened toy. He spent a year leaving a legacy and made his mark on the toy community.”
After becoming redundant at the end of 2020, Steve gained new employment in July 2021 as a graphic designer for local company Booja Booja, which Hannah described as “brilliantly supportive”.
But despite joining the company in full health, he was forced to leave after only six weeks.
"He began getting headaches and became grumpy and withdrawn,” Hannah said.
“We thought it might be stress at first but then after the August bank holiday, he began being sick too.
“He had an MRI scan booked but decided to get his eyes tested too. Within five minutes of being seen he was told to go straight to A&E.”
He was diagnosed with grade four gliosarcoma, a rare and highly aggressive brain cancer. Three weeks later, surgeons at Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge, removed the tumour.
Following chemotherapy and radiotherapy, doctors told him he had 16 months before it would return and in January 2022, he was given the all-clear.
Just six weeks later, he received the devastating news that the tumour had returned and was measuring 6.3cm - three times bigger than the original tumour.
"It was horrendous but there was nothing else we could do," Hannah added.
“Steve was incredibly brave. He just accepted the news and he was incredibly calm. He smiled his way throughout and maintained his sense of humour.
“I’ve never seen such a quiet strength in someone.”
Undeterred, the couple progressed with their future plans and spent just over three weeks organising the wedding of their dreams. Family and friends “dropped everything” and they married on May 14 in the garden of Hannah’s family home in Wymondham.
On May 29, two weeks later, Steve died at home surrounded by loved ones.
“Steve was the most creative, imaginative and thoughtful man I could ever have hoped to have met," Hannah said.
"With that came a kindness and gentleness. He will be remembered for the beautiful soul he was.
“I always knew there was very much a Peter Pan aspect to Steve throughout his life, now it is as if he will always be the boy who never grew up.”
Steve was also a band member of The Avi80rs and puppet act the Booze Brothers, of which he made the puppets.
As well as his wife, Mr Gilmour leaves behind a daughter, parents Chris and Josie, brother Martin, best friend Adam and all who played music with him, watched him perform, or saw one of his photographs.