For details on how to contact our editorial and commercial departments, click here
Meningitis victim's grieving grandfather killed in fireball
THE devastated grandfather of a boy who died of meningitis eight years ago left 12 red roses at the youngster’s graveside before apparently setting himself on fire.
Ronald Bamlett, 74, parked his Toyota Yaris in Hutton Rudby, near Stokesley, North Yorkshire, on Tuesday (September 17) afternoon, opposite the former home of his beloved grandson, William Cressey.
Mr Bamlett’s heartbroken family yesterday (Thursday) said police believe he doused himself in petrol before taking his own life.
William, from Hurworth Place, died at Darlington Memorial Hospital in early 2005, aged ten, after doctors failed to diagnose his symptoms as the deadly meningitis virus.
The pensioner, a former foreman welder, was shattered by his grandson’s death and became increasingly frustrated at hearings the family hoped would bring to account those responsible for William’s medical care.
In an emotional interview with The Northern Echo, Mr Bamlett’s daughter, Cheryl Cressey, William’s mother, said her father believed no one would be held responsible for the youngster’s death and his grief became too much.
Mrs Cressey said: “Dad really struggled when Will died, he was in a terrible way and became more and more depressed.
"We helped each other along, but he was just so devastated he could not cope with it.”
Mrs Cressey said her father would regularly drive from his home in Coulby Newham, in Middlesbrough, to William’s grave.
Describing her father’s final hours, she said: “He was going to the cemetery every day, he would sit there for hours.
“On Tuesday, he went to the cemetery, took 12 red roses and laid them at Will’s grave.
“Then he drove to Hutton Rudby and parked over the road to a house where I used to live with Will when he was little.
"He went back to the place where he was most happy with Will, he parked in a driveway where he could see the house where Will lived and set fire to himself.
“He could not bear his grief anymore.”
Mr Bamlett was said to have taken on a more fatherly role with William, who attended Croft Church of England Primary School, after Mrs Cressey’s divorce.
She added: “Dad adored Will. When we lived in Hutton Rudby, he used to take Will for walks round the woods, it was one of the happiest times of his life.”
Mr Bamlett was separated from his wife, Valerie, his daughter said, although they remained friends.
He also leaves another daughter, Dawn Preston, and two granddaughters.
Mrs Cressey spoke of her mother’s grief at Tuesday’s tragic events.
She said: “She is absolutely desperate. They did not live together any longer, but they still had a friendship. They loved each other.
“The police came to my mum’s house on Tuesday and said they had found Dad’s car burnt out.
“I thought they were going to say it had been stolen, then they said there was a body in the car.”
Before the tragedy of losing his cherished grandson enveloped his life, Mr Bamlett was said to be an art lover and dedicated family man, whose work enabled him to travel extensively.
Mrs Cressey added: “He worked all over the world.
“He loved art, he went to galleries and bought paintings and collectables and enjoyed going to auctions.
“He spent time working in Russia and Algeria and used to come back and tell us all these stories.
“He was a regular family man.
“He was always popping into my house and my Mum’s house, but when Will died, he was just devastated.”
Mrs Cressey said the heartbreak of losing her father in such circumstances, having already suffered the anguish of William’s death, was ‘unbearable’.
She said: “It is more than we can bear.
“We knew Dad was depressed, but we thought he would level out. We did not see this coming at all.”
Police said yesterday that they were treating Mr Bamlett’s death as unexplained, but it is understood they are not seeking anyone in connection with it.
Although his death is likely to result in an inquest, Mrs Cressey appears in little doubt that her father acted deliberately.
She said: “He just decided he was going to die, he had been to the doctors and had refused help and treatment.
“The 12 red roses he left at William’s grave was a clear statement of his intention.”
North Yorkshire Police is continuing to investigate Mr Bamlett’s death. Anyone with information is asked to call 101.