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“She tried everything in her power to beat the cancer”: Husband’s tribute to Aboyne mum-of-three Kara Colclough

The 44-year-old battled metastatic breast cancer, defying doctors' timescales to spend more time with her children.

Aboyne mother-of-three Kara Colclough, with husband Graham and their children.
Aboyne mother-of-three Kara Colclough, with husband Graham and their children.

The husband of Aboyne mum Kara Colclough has paid tribute to the 44-year-old who had a “smile that could light up a room.”

The mother of three, originally from Australia,  died following a “hard fought” battle with metastatic breast cancer.

Early years

Brisbane-born Kara Alicia was the eldest daughter of Rod Pennington and Teresa McMahon, who later divorced.

A “happy baby”, she arrived on September 13 1979. She and her younger sister Miranda completed their schooling in Queensland though Kara was just as much at home in a swimming pool, or with a basketball in her hand, as she was with any academic textbook.

Always with a “winning smile”: Kara Colclough.

A radical thinker who wasn’t afraid to question the status quo, Kara worked as a model “on the side” while studying International Business at Griffith University.

Falling in love

Following graduation, she joined Miranda in the UK, who was part-way through a gap year.

“More like a party year,” the pair enjoyed being together again, in late 90s London.

Kara found work as one of the team in a city “dot com” start-up. There, she was introduced to Aboyne business advisor Graham Colclough.

“I met Kara around 2001,” Graham said. “She was this incredibly smart, beautiful woman. She became involved in a business I was working with. Then, when she was looking for work some time later, she asked me if I knew of any marketing jobs.

“We met up, to talk it through, and it went from there.”

Becoming a bride

Both keen skiers, Graham and Kara worked in the city mid-week then spent every other weekend in Verbier, Switzerland, for the the winter.

Kara and Graham Colclough on the slopes where they loved to spend time together.

“Kara once asked me what my dream winter would be. When I told her it would be on the Swiss slopes she then just made it happen,” added Graham, who has a daughter Chloe – in Verbier – from a previous relationship.

In 2005 Kara returned to Australia.

When a friend pointed out she was still “pining” for Graham the couple arranged to meet up, once again.

Happier times: Kara and Graham Cocolough on their wedding day.

After travelling to Queensland in 2010, Graham asked Kara to be his wife, and in 2011 they wed in Australia.

An amazing mother

Following their nuptials the couple returned to Hampstead, London.

There, they started a family, welcoming son Arran in 2012, daughter Isla in 2014 and their baby girl, Vaila, in 2017.

In 2020 when news broke of Covid 19, voracious researcher Kara predicted a lockdown. Wanting to flee London before measures were put in place the family relocated to Aboyne where the Colclough family have lived since the 1800s.

Kara Coclough and her children Arran, Isla and baby Vaila.

“Kara had an incredible ability to think differently. She was often quite contrary in how she approached things. The move back to my family home in Scotland was perfect timing for our family,” Graham said.

Cancer diagnosis

The Colcloughs enjoyed the fresh air and freedoms of Royal Deeside, making new friends and becoming embedded in the community.

Before long it would also prove to be a more suitable place for Kara to navigate a journey with terminal cancer.

“She found a lump in her breast while in London, however with Covid and moving house, it didn’t get checked until we moved to Scotland.

“When we settled here she went to the doctor. Sadly, she was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer; already stage three. Following an operation it became clear it was even more advanced than anticipated.

“That didn’t quell Kara’s thirst for life, however. It just drove her to find new ways to beat it. She defied doctors’ expectations.”

Time running out

After chemotherapy tablets caused sickness she turned to alternative complementary treatments, vitamin infusions, mushroom compounds and many other well-researched therapies.

Graham added: “Her mindset was very much that if traditional medicine was causing pain, and not massively changing the outcome, why not try non-traditional means that wouldn’t cause pain.”

Though much of Kara’s final two years were spent resting in bed, she remained positive for her children.

Devoted mother Kara Coclough with her young family, at Crathes.

Always honest with them, her candour didn’t make it any easier to let them know time was running out.

“I remember the children sort of saying, ‘what… you’re not going to live?’ It was less about them being surprised about her illness, they knew she was ill,” said Graham. “It was more the disbelief that there could be a world without Kara. That was unthinkable for them.

“Seeing them, and Kara in tears, was heartbreaking.”

Final farewell

Last month Kara’s condition worsened. She was admitted to Roxburghe House where Graham stayed by her side.

She passed away at 6.30am on May 2. A celebration of her life took place at Baldarroch Crematorium on Thursday May 9.

Kara’s sister and best friend Paul shared tributes, and her Australian cousins in South Africa and India joined via livestream, to deliver a poem about Kara’s life.

Reflecting on his wife’s life and legacy, Graham described Kara as being a person others stopped to take notice of.

“She had a smile that lit up a room and never did things by half.

“Whether it was throwing herself into cold water swimming, almost to the point of breaking ice, getting her and the kids to become crochet experts, or just doing everything in her power to fight cancer, Kara was totally committed to living life.

“Her greatest desire for our kids was for them to be present and aware of the world around them; to be people who lived and loved well.

“She achieved that,” Graham added.

You can read the family’s announcement here.