VETERAN singer Vince Hill says he has been left “wrecked” by the death of his son.
Athol Hill, 42, was found dead at the home of his former partner on Tuesday. Paramedics were called and an air ambulance was sent but he could not be revived.
Less than 48 hours earlier, Mr Hill had been involved in a car crash on the B481 at Highmoor. He had been driving from his home near Cookley Green at about 8.40pm on Sunday to see his parents in Shiplake when he lost control of his Renault Scenic and hit a garden wall. The car is thought to have skidded on black ice. Mr Hill was not injured.
On Monday, the father-of-two went to visit Liz Green, his former partner, and their 15-year-old daughter Niam in Badgemore Lane, Henley.
Mr Hill stayed the night but could not be roused by Ms Green the following morning.
Insp Mark Harling, head of Henley police said the death was not being treated as suspicious and a report would be prepared for the Oxfordshire coroner.
Mr Hill snr, who is best-known for his smash hit Edelweiss, said he and wife Annie, who is unwell, were in shock.
The 79-year-old said: “It still hasn’t sunk in. I still expect him to walk in through the door. At the moment I don’t know how I am going to cope with the next few days or weeks. I just feel wrecked. I am beyond tears. Annie is a very strong lady but she feels the same.
“This must be the worst day of my life. With Annie being so poorly too – she has to be on oxygen most of the time – and then to suddenly get this.”
Mr Hill said his son had bumped his head at a function last week, which left him with blurred vision, and he feared this could have caused his death.
“It could have been a brain haemorrhage or something,” he said. “Sometimes these things are delayed. The bump on the head wasn’t troubling him but he said he had a vision problem. I said to him to get his eyes checked but he was worried about the accident and wanted to get his car sorted and the insurance.”
Mr and Mrs Hill thought they couldn’t have children until Athol was conceived after 12 years of trying.
Mrs Hill’s gynaecologist was so concerned about his imminent birth that he sat beside her on the first night when her husband opened for a season at London’s Talk of the Town.
Mr Hill said: “Athol was a beautiful, golden-haired little boy. He was gorgeous – a very happy little lad.
“He was a lovely little kid, smashing. He travelled around the world a bit when he was with us and went to Australia and New Zealand.”
The Hills moved to Shiplake when Athol was eight and he attended Shiplake Primary School and Gillotts School in Henley.
Mr Hill said his son “wasn’t a scholar” but enjoyed music and he played the drums.
“He didn’t follow in my footsteps at all,” said the singer. “He used to practice at the top of the house and lots of boats used to stop and listen.”
Mr Hill said he was proud of his son who had turned his life around following years of drug abuse. He had been clean for two years and had taken a course in IT.
He said: “I was very proud of him for what he had gone through and how he came out the other end. There were lots of plans with his little boy and he was doing an IT course and he was doing ever so well.”
Mr Hill jnr had a new partner, Julie Bishop, and they had a son, Felix, three.
Friends have posted tributes on his Facebook page.
Heidi Forsbrey Hall wrote: “Goodnight sweetheart, heaven has gained a guddun x.”
Rachel Rampton John wrote: “R.I.P, my old friend, so many memories. Will always be thinking of you.”
Mr Hill added: “Everybody who knew Athol said what an easy going guy he was. Everybody loved him.”