Dad's grief after son, 20, took his own life on last night of Corfu lads' holiday

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The dad of a ‘charming’ 20-year-boxer who took his  own life on the last night of a holiday in Greece has spoken about the heartache of not knowing why he did it.

William Hughes, an aspiring boxer pursuing an economics degree in London, had shown no warning of his intents as he updated his parents with happy snaps of his lads holiday in Corfu back in July 2018.

But on July 9, his dad Stephen got a call no parent should ever have to take – William, who was said to be the life and soul of parties, had tried killing himself and was in hospital for reanimation, WalesOnline reports.

“It was the worst phone call in the world. The doctor told us that William was in hospital after he had tried to end his own life,” said Stephen Hughes, 54.

William (right) took his life on the last night of a lads holiday in Corfu

Stephen has spoken out about the pain of not knowing why his son took his life

“I don’t know what was running through my mind, all I knew was that I just had to get to an airport and get out there because at that point he was still alive, so I got in the car and drove, probably picking up loads of speeding tickets on the way.

“I got to the Severn Bridge on the way to Bristol Airport and then got the phone call saying that they were unable to resuscitate him.

“As a parent, you can’t imagine what hearing that is like unless you’ve been through it.”

William with boxing legend Enzo Maccarinelli who called him his boxing protege

 

Stephen, who is chairman of Swansea RFC, described how determined and passionate of a person his son had always been.

He told how he had tried to put his William off boxing when he first expressed the desire to join the ring when he was nine, hoping he would follow in his footsteps as a rugby player.

But determined to have his own way, the then nine year old posted a letter to Bonymaen Boxing Club in Swansea.

Weeks later, much to the dismay of his family, boxing legend Mario Maccarrinelli said he saw something in William and agreed to train him.

The young boxing protege smiled, knowing he had gotten his own way.

His boxing career began right there.  

“William was a real ‘tour de force’ and lived life at a hundred miles an hour.

His parents believe he was overwhelmed by his life in London

“He filled up a room and could charm anyone he would meet. He was always a really confident young boy because his mother put him into acting and he got a role playing the Master in Doctor Who as a child,” said Stephen.

“Everyone knew William, he couldn’t walk 100 metres without stopping for a chat with someone.

“He put his all into everything he did and loved boxing, that was all he wanted to do – in February, 2018, he won the British Universities and Colleges Sport Championships,” added the dad, who now lives in Langland.

William’s family and friends are still trying to understand what happened and why he made the decision to end his life.

Stephen had wanted William to follow in his footsteps as a rugby player

“We as a family have tried to piece parts back together, it wasn’t drugs, it wasn’t money problems and I suppose in hindsight the only thing we can think of is that he moved to London and wasn’t enjoying his time up there, we should have just brought him home to Swansea.

“At home in Swansea, he knew everyone but maybe he was lonely in London, it is so impersonal.

“He was incredibly bright and was studying for his degree and put so much pressure on himself with his boxing. I remember after he won in boxing, he would come off and still say I could’ve played better,” added Stephen, who has two other sons.

“Maybe that is why he did it on the last day of his holiday, because he couldn’t handle the thought of moving back to London.”

William defied his dad to become a boxer since the age of nine

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Following an inquest, which concluded the 20-year-old had taken his life, William was flown back to the UK.

“His friends were tremendous throughout it all, I really felt for them that they had been out there and seen it, but they were a huge support,” the grieving dad said.

“He didn’t leave a note so we will never really know why he did it. He had the whole package and everything going for him. I can never really understand what was going on in his mind.”

Now Stephen and his family are trying to stop others from experiencing the horror they went through.

“I don’t want to hear another story of a young boy taking his own life, it is happening all too often now and we need to do something to stop it. We need to get these young boys talking,” he said.

This summer, one of William’s best friends, Alex Rockefeller from Mumbles RFC, challenged Swansea RFC to a charity rugby match which was being held on August 24 at 5pm.

The charity match will see rugby legends take to the pitch in honour of William, and Alex’s sister Abie Rockefeller who tragically lost her life to sarcoma cancer aged 22 in February this year.

The match will take place during Mumbles Crackers 7’s events at Underhill Park on and will see Hughes supporters wearing white, Rockefeller’s wearing blue and those who knew both wearing both colours.

Of the event, Stephen said: “Half of the money is going to Sarcoma UK and half is going to Swansea Mind.

“Fundraising is amazing but what we really want to do is get people talking about it. The response has been amazing because it is such a topic right now, it resonates with everyone.

“My love and relationship with my son was very personal and private but young men taking their lives is becoming so prevalent that we felt we wanted to raise awareness because we can’t lose anymore boys to this, we need to show them that they have a bright future ahead of them.”

For confidential support the Samaritans can be contacted for free around the clock 365 days a year on 116 123.



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