Kelsey Parker on Grief, Father’s Day and Continuing Tom Parker’s Legacy

Since the death of her husband, The Wanted singer Tom Parker, in 2022, Kelsey Parker has continued to admirably raise awareness about brain tumours, while documenting her life after Tom and navigating grief as a solo parent to their two children Aurelia Rose, four, and Bodhi Thomas, three.

Tom was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer in 2020. Despite this, he continued in his efforts to raise awareness about brain tumours and even held a charity concert with his former band and other pop stars like Becky Hill, Liam Payne and McFly. Tom sadly passed away two years later aged just 33, but Kelsey is striving to continue his legacy.

Last year, Kelsey held a charity football match at Bromley FC and raised £30,000 for Ahead of The Game brain tumour charity. This year, on Father's Day, Kelsey is continuing the tradition with Surrey football club, Dorking Wanderers.

"From the moment he got diagnosed to the day he died, he raised so much awareness. So he's passed the baton over to me, saying 'Kels, you can do this now'," she tells PS UK. "Last year, you could feel the love and energy in the stadium and we're going to create that same feeling again."

Kelsey explains that while the Father's Day match is a great way to come together as a community with others whose lives have been affected by brain tumours, it's also a brilliant way for her and her children to celebrate the day in Tom's memory.

"It's not just about my kids and I, it's about [remembering] the ones that we've lost on this journey."

"I've noticed this year that my children's moods have changed around Father's Day because I think they're more aware that Tom's not here," Kelsey says. "It's awful that they don't have a dad to celebrate with and it's confusing for them, but that's why I wanted to hold the charity football match, then they can celebrate with everyone else while continuing Tom's legacy."

She adds: "We've got lots of mascots coming down that are affected by brain tumours, or they've lost siblings or relatives to brain tumours. It's not just about my kids and I, it's about community and for people to remember the ones that we've lost on this journey."

While working to raise awareness and as a solo parent, Parker confesses that navigating her grief has been difficult. "As a mum, it's hard to deal with my grief and then have my two that depend on me. And that was from the moment Tom was sick," Kelsey says.

"When he died, we had to continue. [Aurelia and Bodhi] didn't quite understand, they were babies, but they knew he wasn't going to come back. But I could only think 'How do we move forward?' Even though years have passed, I'm still trying to navigate how to grieve and be there for my children, it's tough."

Kelsey believes that through her journey, with the help of her ever-growing platform and the continued support for the Tom Parker Foundation, she can continue to spread the word about brain tumours.

"I was put on this journey for a reason. I want to take a stand and raise money and awareness and share what I've learned with everyone. I'm so fortunate, but unfortunate. I get to spread the word about brain tumours and how underfunded they are, and how much more time and care needs to go into them," she says.

Soap star Alex Bain, social media influencers Jim Chapman and Josh Pieters, and former Love Island contestant Adam Maxted are all set to take part. The Tom Parker Father's Day Football Match will be sponsored by Grove Gallery this year. All proceeds to Ahead of the Game Foundation, who are raising vital funds and awareness for brain tumour research and care.

For more information about the football match and to buy tickets, visit the Dorking Wanderers website.

If you are experiencing grief, you can speak with someone in confidence at Cruse Bereavement Care through their national helpline on 0808 808 1677. Whether you've been diagnosed with a brain tumour or a family member or friend has, you can call The Brain Tumour Charity on 0808 800 0004 for support or visit their website.

Lauren Gordon is the editorial coordinator at PS UK, where she creates lifestyle and identity content. Lauren has a degree in journalism from University of the Arts London and previously worked as a showbiz and TV reporter at The Mirror US. Lauren specialises in pop culture, hair and beauty, focusing on trends, sharing in-depth tutorials, and highlighting hidden gems in the beauty industry.