Dancing On Ice star devastated by best friend’s death

His pal had promised to watch him perform in the show

Dancing On Ice star Antony Cotton says he is performing through personal pain following the tragic death of a close friend.

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Coronation Street star Antony was close friends with Met Police officer Gareth Donnelly, who collapsed and died in July following a lung haemorrhage at just 37 years old.

The pair had been friends for a decade and, while they may not have seemed obvious pals, Antony says that their very different lives were what made them such close friends.

“I had a very, very special friendship with Gaz,” Antony said to The Mirror. “We met through mutual friends 10 years ago. I adored him.

“He had a very different life to me, he was in the police, so as far removed from showbiz as you could get. Because of that, he was the first person I told about Dancing on Ice.”

Not only was Gareth the first person to hear Antony’s news about taking part in the glitzy reality show, but he also promised to be there for the star’s first dance on the ice.

“As frivolous as TV is, Gaz loved it,” Antony continued. “He loved showbiz, he loved gossip. He had a tough job, so anything like that he loved because it took him out of that world.He was beside himself with excitement and promised to be there on the first night – and then, of course, he wasn’t.

Gareth had previously survived both testicular cancer and a heart operation, and he and wife Amy were enjoying life with their six month old daughter, Matilda, when Gareth suddenly passed away.

“In July, he wasn’t feeling well so went to the hospital and they said they would do tests,” Antony recalls. “But as he walked through his front door he died. I had texted Gaz that afternoon and he hadn’t replied. It was a real lesson in life, because it was so unexpected, you never know what is round the corner.”

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Antony dedicated last week’s first performance to Gareth, and while his friend couldn’t be there, Antony was able to invite Gareth’s wife, Amy.

“Before the first Dancing on Ice show I found a lighter in my jacket pocket that Gaz had bought me,” Antony says.

“I texted Amy to tell her and she said I should take it with me for luck. I said I didn’t want to lose it but asked Amy if she would come to the first show as my good luck charm. So she came with my partner Peter and my mum and dad.”

Antony will be back on the ice on Sunday and we’re sure he’ll be doing his best friend proud.

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