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How Kate Garraway's two children navigated dad Derek Draper's health battle

Kate and Derek shared two children, Darcey and Billy  

Kate Garraway gave viewers an insight into her family in the docuseries Caring for Derek
Emmy Griffiths
TV & Film Editor
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Kate Garraway has confirmed the tragic news that her husband, Derek Draper, has passed away after struggling with many health problems since contracting COVID in 2020. Derek suffered a heart attack in December that left him hospitalised, with Kate since confirming that he was left critically ill, and was surrounded by family when he died in hospital in January. 

READ: Kate Garraway announces her 'darling' husband Derek Draper's death 

Kate and Derek shared two children, Darcey, 17, and 14-year-old Billy, whom Kate has often praised due to their relationship with their father throughout his illness. From being overwhelmed with their love and support to how the teenagers would spend time with their dad, here is everything Kate has said about the kids caring for Derek… 

Darcey and Billy’s reaction to Derek’s health condition 

Derek spent a great deal of time in hospital in 2020, with the family unable to visit due to COVID-19 restrictions. As such, Kate revealed how Darcey and Billy would communicate with him via FaceTime, telling HELLO!: "We're keeping positive and doing everything we can to bring him around. The children and I communicate with him every day on FaceTime, while a nurse holds his iPad. My priority is to make the children feel safe, not to let them see me feeling vulnerable in the world where Derek was my rock." 

Kate and Derek share two children, Darcey and Billy© Instagram
Kate and Derek shared two children, Darcey and Billy

She continued: "During their chats, they tell him what they've been doing, and their sense of humour often shines through. Darcey, who wants to be a barrister, said: 'Dad, you'd better get better soon because I'm getting cleverer every day. You'll never win an argument if you don't get well soon.'" She added: "Darcey even told him about how she put together a flatpack of furniture for her bedroom. 'Mum's useless. She can't use a screwdriver. I wish you were here, Dad.'"

Derek's kids have been by his side since he fell ill in 2020© Instagram
Derek's kids have been by his side since he fell ill in 2020

The kids also wanted to help with Derek’s recovery in October of the same year, when they persuaded Kate to decorate for Halloween, their dad’s favourite holiday, to lift his spirits. At the time, Kate posted: "Tough day as Derek loves #halloween - but the kids have encouraged me to get some of his favourite spooky kit out to celebrate him and feel better for it. Happy #halloween everyone."

Darcey and Billy in Finding Derek 

Following Derek’s return home, Kate spoke about how the children were "beside themselves" when he was back from hospital. Speaking on Zoe Ball’s Radio 2 show, she said: "He isn't really able to speak at the moment so he can't tell him off, I have to be the bad guy! They are beside themselves to have him home. They are my heroes. They know instinctively how to talk to him but not ask too much from him. In a way that grownups want to see the old Derek, they have an instinct, there is a lot of love there."

Kate Garraway sat on a sofa© Ken McKay/ITV/Shutterstock
Kate confirmed the sad news that Derek had passed away

In an Instagram post, Kate spoke about their return to 'normal' life with Darcey and Billy, writing: "Well this was a moment - the first time the kids & I have been out to “something” other than school or work since Derek got sick. It was a magic show we were supposed to be heading to when he was rushed into hospital - and we felt strange that we were going out to one when he isn’t ready to - YET. 

Kate Garraway gave viewers an insight into her family in the docuseries Caring for Derek© ITV
Kate Garraway gave viewers an insight into her family in the docuseries Caring for Derek

"But it was so wonderful to see Darcey and Billy enthralled and mystified and enraptured - the magic of life returning. And I know that’s what Derek wants too. It was unnerving to be with so many people after so long and the kids were wide-eyed and more than a little disorientated to be in the centre of London with all the buzz but excited too. I couldn’t believe my eyes welled up at the spirit and celebration and pure joy of the performers getting the chance to entertain again - magic back in the west end and in our lives." 

Darcey and Billy also appeared in their mum’s documentary, Finding Derek, where they spoke about his condition. Darcey said: "We've heard rumours that he'll get better before next year but we really don't know." 

Kate Garraway on Good Morning Britain© Ken McKay/ITV/Shutterstock
Kate Garraway on Good Morning Britain

Addressing his return to his home after the hospital, she continued: "It might be hard because he might still be hooked up to things to help him survive... It's not scary in the way that it looks scary, but it's scary to think that we might lose him." 

Billy added: "Dad usually does LEGO with me the most, but since dad's not here I've been doing it on myself... I really want him back but we don't know if he's going to get better or not." 

Kate Garraway smiling at her husband Derek Draper dressed in black© Shutterstock
Kate Garraway and husband Derek Draper in 2008

It was also a moment for the family when Kate revealed that she would be taking Darcey and Billy away for a holiday just the three of them, while Derek was being looked after by carers. Speaking on GMB, she said: "I had a very tight window where I could get everybody to come and look after Derek so I could take the kids away. Obviously, he has nurses as well. Also, I could get somewhere where I could find friends to help us, as I think we're all quite emotional, the three of us, about going away without him and whether that feels a bit strange to do. 

Derek Draper and his son Billy pictured in 2021 as they attended the Cinderella pantomime at the Richmond Theatre starring celebrity friend Anton Du Beke© Splash
Derek Draper and his son Billy pictured in 2021 as they attended the Cinderella pantomime at the Richmond Theatre starring celebrity friend Anton Du Beke

"I wondered whether that would feel too strange to do. It feels like a bit of a moment, my son Billy is a bit concerned. It feels strange but we need to do it, to have a little bit of time come back and be refreshed." 

Troubling times for the family 

Kate revealed some dark days where Darcey was concerned about her mother as well as her dad, explaining: "They [the kids] were at times wondering if I was going to be okay, was I going to be able to keep going. Darcey at one point actually said, "Mum - are you going to kill yourself?" Out of the blue.’ The thing is, that sounds horrific, obviously. But if you know Darcey, she's really blunt. She will always go to the most awful thing you can imagine and work her way back.

Kate and Derek with their son Billy © Getty
Kate and Derek tied the knot in 2005

"She just came out with the sentence, and I said, "Oh my God, no. Why would you think that?" She said, "I wasn't, but I just thought I better check.'" At the time, Kate replied: "'If anything it's the absolute opposite. I can't imagine what would be more opposite. I'm so scared you thought of that.' And she was like, 'Don’t make a big thing of it.' It showed at the very least she wanted affirmation. And also made me realise she wasn't just worried about her dad, but thinking of me and her brother.

A timeline of Derek Draper's health battle

March 2020: Derek is diagnosed with COVID-19

Kate's husband was rushed to hospital after contracting COVID-19. He was left critically ill and would remain in hospital for over a year, fighting complications from the disease.

April 24, 2020: Derek placed in medically induced coma 

Derek was placed in a medically induced coma to help his body battle the impacts of COVID. He lost eight stone during this time.

July 2020: Derek wakes from his coma

Kate revealed he was in a "minimally conscious state".  The presenter and her two children were finally able to visit Derek in hospital as coronavirus restrictions eased.

September 2020: Kate gives an update on Derek's health

Kate revealed that his first word when he came around was "pain". After 214 days in hospital, he was able to breathe without a ventilator.

March 23, 2021: Kate releases Caring for Derek documentary

The ITV programme offered an insight into the family's struggle and how different their lives had been since Derek fell ill.

April 8, 2021: Derek allowed to move home

Kate began providing 24/7 care for Derek at their family home in London. She revealed his speech was "very minimal" and that moving around was difficult.

April 2022: Derek reunites with nurse who cared for him

Kate interviewed his carer, Beth Dixon, on GMB. It was an emotional moment for the whole family.

June 2022: Derek briefly returns to hospital

A family insider said they were worried about Derek's condition. Kate also stepped back from her GMB presenting duties.

January 2023: Derek returns to hospital

Kate revealed Derek had fallen out of his wheelchair and expressed her concern at the long ambulance waiting times.

July 2023: Derek watches Kate receive her MBE

Kate was presented with an MBE for services to journalism. Derek was pictured sitting in a wheelchair and cheering her on in an emotional photograph.

September 2023: Kate shares heartbreaking update

The GMB host admitted they didn't know whether Derek would ever get better.

December 2023: Derek suffers a heart attack

Kate revealed Derek had suffered a setback and was re-admitted to hospital. She said watching her husband struggle daily was "heartbreaking".

"I don't think I realised how much they were taking care of me quite a lot along the way. The first moment was they wanted to watch Father Brown and I thought, "This is a very odd thing for a teenager to be choosing to watch. But I realised they knew I loved it, and they wanted to do things for me." 

Billy and Darcey in 2023

Kate spoke about her two children on This Morning in September 2023, explaining: "Love for him, for the Children. He is most alive when they're around. They are unbelievable. I haven't really talked a lot about them in some ways, but they've had their own traumas and it's not my story to tell. So maybe one day they'll tell it, I want to try and protect them in that way, but they've been amazing with him in their different ways. They're so intuitive and it is love, I guess, isn't it."

Derek with Kate and their two children months before his death© Instagram
Derek with Kate and their two children months before his death

She also revealed a beautiful moment between Billy and Derek while on Loose Women, after Derek was able to comment on Billy’s new basketball, leaving her son in tears. She said: "It’s very much a whisper. I don’t think we’re necessarily going to have a conversation, but you get fantastic moments. Billy had a new basketball and was bouncing it, and he [Derek] said ‘is that new ball?’ He said: ‘It’s nice’…”

"Seeing him able to do that was amazing. Billy was in tears, they were hugging. It’s things like that that really lift you up, and the next day he was really still." 

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