IT WAS A SPECIAL afternoon for Aberaeron Gateway last Friday (July 28) as they said a fond farewell to their close friend and member Daniel Dodgen, who recently passed away due to complications with an existing condition.
His memory was celebrated with multiple congregations in Aberaeron and Bristol, the two places Daniel frequently visited and made a lot of friends.
Aberaeron Gateway club held a special event in The Prince of Wales in Aberaeron to celebrate Daniel’s life alongside his friends and family. Daniel was a popular figure in Aberaeron and this was reflected in the numbers that turned out for the event, including Aberaeron Town Mayor Rhys Davies, who reflected on the evening.
“It was an evening to remember Daniel Dodgen and he would have loved every moment,” Mayor Davies told the Herald. “The room was full of all his friends, reading tributes to Dan, some singing his favourite songs and everyone recounting their own personal memories. It was a night full of fun and laughter but it was also a night to remember. Daniel will be missed dearly by all his friends and family, he left such a big impression on everyone he met, including me.”
Jan Kench, Mencap Ceredigion Chair, organised the event. “Our members were sad that Dan had died. We discussed together whether or not to cancel Gateway, but we decided we were going to have a special memorial night. We decided not to do something sad, but something he would have liked. He liked karaoke, so we did that. He was a great friend, a great supporter of Gateway, and people are going to miss him. We collected money for Dan’s favourite charities, Bronglais Hospital, Bristol Heart Institute and Air Ambulance Wales – all of which were a great part of Dan’s life. Although it was sad, it was a very happy event of remembering someone who was very special to us.”
Jane Dodgen, Daniel’s mum, was also involved in the event. She described Daniel’s life to those gathered.
“He was a lovely lad. Dan was born in Zambia. He was diagnosed with Downs Syndrome when he was two years old. We moved back to the UK when he was eight. He had three open heart surgeries, and we were well looked after by the cardiac team here (in Bronglais) and in Bristol. From birth Daniel was beset by medical issues that continued throughout his life and defined a huge part of his character – along with his superheroes and the police force. He loved hospitals so much, that he willingly put up with all the pain and discomfort that went along with it.
“He never let anything hold him back. He was able to employ his own personal assistants, so that gave him a really good choice in life about what he wanted to do. He played a huge part in several projects, the allotments, workshop, a gardening service. He was amazing. He was just so confident.
“When his cardiologist in Bristol explained what he was going to do, he was being moved to intensive care, at the end of it he shook the doctor’s hand, and said ‘Thank you Dr. Stewart, you’ve been amazing.”
The evening at The Prince of Wales raised £197 towards Bronglais Hospital, the Welsh Air Ambulance, and Bristol Heart Institute. Aberaeron Gateway will also be holding a disco charity fundraiser on August 12 from 7pm, open to all and children friendly.