Thousands of fans have been invited to line the streets to say their final goodbyes to Bolton-born singer Tom Parker as his funeral takes place today. But who was Tom Parker, what was his diagnosis, how did The Wanted star die and how can you donate in his memory?
Tom’s close friends and family are due to attend a private service in Queensway, Petts Wood, in south-east London today (Wednesday 20th April) and fans have been invited to line the route as they head to the church, before watching the service outside on big screens.
His wife Kelsey set up a GoFundMe page to keep Tom’s memory alive and the money will be donated to charitable causes in lieu of cards and flowers – it has so far raised more than £58,000.
We look at all you need to know about Tom…
Who was Tom Parker?
Tom Parker was an English singer who was best known for being one fifth of the boyband The Wanted. He was born in Bolton, Manchester on 4th August 1988. Tom’s interest in music started when he learned to play the guitar at 16 after trying out his older brother Lewis. In 2004 he auditioned for The X Factor and after he didn’t get past the first round, he enrolled at Manchester Metropolitan University to study Geography but quit to follow his passion as a professional singer. After joining Take That tribute band Take That II, he signed up as a member of The Wanted in 2009.
He was one of thousands who auditioned to become a member of the band and was chosen as one of the five members, joining Nathan Sykes, Siva Kaneswaran, Max George, and Jay McGuiness. The band’s debut single All Time Low debuted at number one in 2010 and their success continued with hits Heart Vacancy, Glad You Came, Chasing the Sun and I Found You – selling in the region of 12 million records worldwide.
The band filmed their own reality TV series The Wanted Life which was released on E! in the hope of appealing to the American music market but it only aired one season in 2013 and the following year, the band announced it was taking a hiatus.
Tom went on to release solo material with single Undiscovered and was no stranger to TV – having reached the semi-final of Celebrity MasterChef and came third place in Channel 4’s The Jump.
He got engaged in 2016 to girlfriend Kelsey Hardwick but then landed the leading role of Danny Zuko in musical Grease in 2017 which led him to postpone his wedding but he eventually married girlfriend Kelsey Hardwick in 2018. The couple went on to have two children together – daughter Aurelia Rose, aged two and son Bodhi, aged one.
What was Tom Parker’s diagnosis?
Tom Parker was diagnosed with a glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) – an aggressive and incurable form of brain cancer in October 2020. He suffered a seizure just months before his diagnosis and was put on the waiting list for an MRI scan, before suffering another seizure on a family trip.
Breaking the news to his fans, Tom wrote, “Hey guys, you know that we’ve both been quiet on social media for a few weeks and it’s time to tell you why. There’s no easy way to say this but I’ve sadly been diagnosed with a Brain Tumour and I’m already undergoing treatment. We decided, after a lot of thought, that rather than hiding away and trying to keep it a secret, we would do one interview where we could lay out all the details and let everyone know the facts in our own way.”
But he asked for positivity to help him through, and added, “We are all absolutely devastated but we are gonna fight this all the way. We don’t want your sadness, we just want love and positivity and together we will raise awareness of this terrible disease and look for all available treatment options. It’s gonna be a tough battle but with everyone’s love and support we are going to beat this. Tom and Kelsey xxx.”
After extensive treatment, in January 2021 he shared on Instagram that his tumour had been “significantly reduced” and shared a snap from his first diagnosis.
He wrote, “REALITY: Two days after this picture was taken, I was told I had a stage 4 brain tumour. It turned my world upside down.. I don’t really remember them earlier days of when I was told. I was living in such a haze.
“But I’ve come a long way even in such a short space of time. Thank you all for your love and support over the last few months. And again thank you to our friends and family who have really come together and helped wherever needed with the kids and helping with the house. My incredible manager @damiensanders1973 who I drive insane 24/7 has put himself out of his way to help me and kels through this difficult period.
“To my beautiful wife who has managed to cope with the tears, and looking after an 18 month old and a new born @being_kelsey she’s the true warrior here! I promise to keep you updated with how things are progressing over the next few months. And here’s hoping for a fantastic 2021”
He continued to battle the disease and raise awareness, holding – Inside My Head – a special charity concert at the Royal Albert Hall in aid of Stand Up to Cancer in September that year. It saw artists such as Becky Hill, McFly, Liam Payne, and the first performance with his bandmates, The Wanted, since they announced their hiatus.
Tom’s brain tumour had stabled itself in November 2021, when he tweeted, “Had the results from my latest scan … and I’m delighted to say it is stable.”
How did Tom Parker die?
The Wanted star Tom Parker died of complications from glioblastoma and passed away peacefully on 30 March 2022, at the age of 33 with all of his closest friends and family by his side.
Kelsey shared, “Our hearts are truly broken, Tom was the centre of our world and we can’t imagine life without him, but one of the biggest sources of comfort over the last two years has been the outpouring of love and support we’ve all received. We can’t thank everyone enough for holding Tom, myself and the children in your thoughts and prayers, for lighting candles and sharing beautiful messages of hope and condolence.
Tributes to Tom were also paid by his former The Wanted bandmates: Max George said he was “heartbroken beyond words”; and Nathan Sykes stated that “[their] lives would never be the same” whilst Siva Kaneswaran said he was grateful that [he] had a chance to witness [Parker’s] true courage”.
How to donate for Tom Parker
You can donate to Tom Parker’s GoFundMe to help others in his memory. Tom’s wife Kelsey set up the fundraiser in her husband’s honour, in order to raise money to help others suffering from brain tumours. So far the page has amassed thousands of donations, raising over £50,000 and counting.
In a touching message written alongside the fundraiser, Kelsey penned, “Our hearts are truly broken, Tom was the centre of our world and we can’t imagine life without him, but one of the biggest sources of comfort over the last 2 years has been the outpouring of love and support we’ve all received. We can’t thank everyone enough for holding Tom, myself and the children in your thoughts and prayers, for lighting candles and sharing beautiful messages of hope and condolence.”
Sharing her hopes for the money raised to go towards helping people facing similar experiences to Tom and to keep his memory alive, she added, “We want to take everyone’s incredible love, support and generosity and turn our grief into something positive and to keep Tom’s memory alive forever. We politely request that instead of gifts and flowers, donations are made to this GoFundMe account with all proceeds eventually going to amazing causes in Tom’s name, to help others in need.
“We simply couldn’t have got through the last 2 years without the help and support we have received and if we can offer it back to others that would be the best way to honour Tom and make our two children, Aurelia and Bodhi proud.”