Strictly’s Gemma Atkinson becomes patron of Grief Encounter

Her beloved father died when she was 17 years old

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Gemma Atkinson has revealed she’s become a patron of Grief Encounter following the loss of her own father.

The former Strictly Come Dancing contestant has joined the charity to share her own experience and understanding after her beloved dad, David, passed away when she was just 17 years old.

Gemma, 33, said: “I’m happy to announce that I have come on board as a Patron of the wonderful charity Grief Encounter.”

Gemma wrote: “I wanted to work with this charity because my dad died suddenly when I was only 17 years old. I know how heartbreaking and confusing grief is to navigate as a child because I’ve been through it.

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“The work that Grief Encounter do to support children of all ages after they lose a parent or a sibling is SO important. I feel passionately about all children having the right support to process their grief at such a difficult time.”

Gemma shared her new role alongside a beautiful throwback picture of herself as a child, sitting on her father’s shoulders.

Fans rushed to send their well-wishes to Gemma on her new position.

One said: “So incredibly happy and honoured that you’re now a Grief Encounter patron.”

Another wrote: “Your dad would be very proud of the person you have become, a thoughtful and beautiful human being xx.”

A third added: “This is such a fantastic charity…. All children need help with grief.. X.”

Others shared their own experience of losing a parent and said Gemma’s new role was incredibly important.

A statement from Grief Encounter said the charity is “absolutely thrilled and honoured” to be working alongside Gemma.

The former Hollyoaks and Emmerdale star lost her father to a heart attack.

Gemma previously told OK! Magazine: “My dad died when I was 17. He was only 52 – he didn’t smoke or drink, he ate well and he died of a heart attack. I don’t think you should fret the little stuff but that experience definitely made me appreciate life more.”

Gemma is a supporter of the British Heart Foundation (Credit: FameFlynet)

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She has since become a firm supporter of the British Heart Foundation.

The star is dating Strictly dancer Gorka Marquez after their friendship blossomed to romance on the Strictly Come Dancing Live Tour at the start of the year.

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