FORMER Strictly star Gemma Atkinson grew tearful yesterday over a fan’s touching gesture in memory of her late dad.
The actress and radio star, 36, shared a message from an Instagram follower who told her she would be running the London Marathon in his memory.
David Atkinson died from a heart attack aged 52 when Gemma was just 17.
The fan wrote: “I am running for the BHF [British Heart Foundation] this year. It would be an honour to add your dad’s name to my ‘in memory of’ list.
“I am writing these names on my arm as the inspiration to keep me going.
“It is my first marathon after only having a baby last year it’s going to be a tough race but so worth it for the work the British Heart Foundation do…”
Gemma was moved by the kind words and added: “And now I’m crying.… My dad was called David Atkinson. Thank you so much.”
The ex-Emmerdale star spoke about her dad’s death on Steph’s Packed Lunch earlier this year.
She said: “It was a huge shock for my older sister Nina and I to lose our dad when he was so young.
“He was fit and healthy and strong and he was the last person you’d expect to collapse with a heart problem.
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“Doctors said that they thought the cause was stress related. At the time, he was very fit and healthy, didn’t smoke and drank occasionally.
“He managed a company and was working a lot and travelling all over the world.”
She continued: “He’d had chest pains he thought was indigestion, so took heartburn tablets and carried on.
“Looking back now, and thanks to my work with the British Heart Foundation, these were classic warning signs that something was wrong.
“If he had gone to the doctors perhaps he could have been investigated and they could have helped him in time.”