The skies opened just as teenager Robbie Readie's funeral at North Dalnottar Cemetery was ending.

The 15-year-old's dad, Robert, only had a couple hours sleep and was up at 5.30am for what started as a beautiful morning last Thursday.

The rain at the cemetery was a sign, he said: “That was Robbie saying, ‘Enough’s enough – I’ve watched and listened to you all get upset, I don’t want to see this any more’.

“A couple minutes of rain told us it was time for everyone to go.

“Robbie never liked to see anyone being upset. He was always a happy person. He liked humour. He liked to laugh. He didn’t like to see anyone else suffer. That was his way.”

With balloons and banners, around 500 mourners distanced themselves along the route from Robbie’s Duntocher home, where he lived with Robert, 46, mum Avril, 39, and sisters Tia, 10, and Orla, seven.

The well-wishers included players from Robbie’s football teams, Drumchapel Amateur FC, West End Thistle FC and the Scotland Amputee football team.

There were pupils, staff and parents of his schools, Goldenhill Primary and Douglas Academy. Staff from Tesco had a banner out for him, and Clydebank’s firefighters saluted.

It was a guard of honour painted blue for Robbie’s favourite team Rangers, and from which his family drew immense strength and expressed their profound gratitude.

Funeral director Jim Drummond told the family he had never seen anything like it.

“We got to give him the send-off he deserved,” said Robert. “Despite the restrictions, he got an amazing turnout. It was overwhelming but comforting at the same time.

“These last two years have been our worst and the support we have had from everyone has been incredible. We couldn’t have got through without help and support from our family, friends, the schools - people who might not even have had the privilege of meeting him all came forward.

“We knew he was a popular boy and we had a lot of people asking how they could pay their respects.

“It was a lovely and beautiful tribute that each and everyone did for our son.

“I felt I had to give everybody the chance to pay their respects, because I could see how much people were hurt by the news.

“But also do it for my son.

"It was the last thing I was ever going to do for him, so I wanted to make sure we did everything we could right to the end.”

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Robbie first became ill in July 2018 and doctors found osteosarcoma in his right femur. In October, his leg was amputated to stop the spread, with the teenager’s ankle bone becoming his new knee – called rotationplasty. It could allow him to play his beloved football again.

The youth football star had been scouted for Rangers youth squad prior to his illness.

He had finished chemo at the Beatson last August but the cancer returned.

In November, Robbie’s parents got the devastating news that there was no treatment that could save him.

Robert and Avril were determined to keep their son at home and keep life as normal and comfortable as possible. Their consultant agreed it was best not to tell Robbie.

For the next few months, the five members of the Readie family spent time together.

Robbie went back to school in January and there were plenty of chances to watch football, even when live matches were halted because of the pandemic.

He got strength from his parents, from watching them.

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The family had trips south in February, made possible by the support of the community. They were in Center Parcs for Robbie’s 15th birthday on February 25. The fund-raising gave the family time to spend together and to make memories.

“We all agreed he would not have been able to cope with the thought of dying,” said Robert.

“In the past two years, every now and again, he would ask. And we just knew our son, that he wouldn’t be able to cope with that.”

The consultant said children tend to know themselves – deep down they actually know because they feel the changes.

But they don’t ask their parents because they’re trying to protect their mum and dad.

Robert added: “If he popped up with a question, we would say, ‘this is part of the journey’. We’d give him a bit more affection, a cuddle or a kiss and say, ‘everything is going to be okay’.”

Robbie would reply: “That’s fine.”

That’s all he needed to hear. His dad admitted it’s not nice telling a white lie, but he was trying to keep Robbie strong and positive, and their time together without there being a “massive great cloud” of fear overhead.

By the middle of March, Robbie was starting to show signs of his decline, but the family kept going. He needed a wheelchair to get around.

“He would not have wanted to go to hospital, and his little sisters would not have wanted that,” said Robert.

“Despite being scared, frightened and emotional, we were doing it for our son.”

By April, Robbie was fully dependent on his dad for his care. The family kept him comfortable and free of pain.

They played boardgames, spent time out in the garden in the April sun, and enjoyed many film and TV nights with duvets and pillows and treats surrounding them all.

The family took car trips when they could. Sometimes dad would take Robbie for a drive, just the two of them.

They took it day by day.

In his final days, Robbie’s sisters went to stay with their grandmother. They had kept the teenager’s home as it was, without medical equipment or changes that could have upset him.

Robert said: “How do you protect your children from being scared when they start to see these changes? It’s easy enough to turn around and tell them everything’s okay because they trust their mum and dad and they get comfort from that.

“But when they get older, you’re faced with a more difficult task in trying to protect them. And that’s what me and his mum were always worried about – that we couldn’t protect him anymore from being scared.

“We managed to keep him not being scared, not being in any pain. He passed away in our arms, peacefully.”

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Robert knew this was going to be a hard journey when the cancer was first diagnosed.

“To get my kids and family through, I had to be the strong one,” he said. “It was tougher and tougher to be strong for everyone because I was really finding it hard myself.”

He got counsel from his best friend, but sometimes had to just walk the family dog – Chum, a French bulldog bought for Robbie with the help of Clydebank salon Strawberry Blonde.

“For me, the tears were to help clear the eyes,” explained Robert. “Once I got the emotions out on my own, I was able to see things clearer and maybe feel a bit of relief and go back ready to go again.

“Despite everything, Robbie never moaned or complained once. He would smile at everything.

“He taught us how to deal with adversity, always laughing, always joking. That was his way of coping and we drew a lot of strength from that.

“He was faced with that many challenges and disappointments these last two years, that every time he picked himself back up, I was so proud because he was coming back stronger, mentally,” said his dad.

“It was unbelievable.

“A father would always want their son to become a person they want them to become.

“But he actually makes me want to become just like him.”


The family would like to thank everyone in #TeamRobbie for their support as well as Strawberry Blonde Beauty by Demi, Marcus McGowan, Todd Richardson, Bonnie Balloons, parents and teachers from Goldenhill Primary, Douglas Academy and Lairdsland Primary, Jim Drummond Funeral Director, piper Fraser Sergeant, Tesco Hardgate,
Clydebank fire station, Brian Konstantinou (BK Photography), Scotland Amputee Football team, Drumchapel Amateur FC and West End Thistle FC.