She was the Home And Away darling who stole Australia’s heart with her beautiful smile and fighting spirit.
And now, 10 years after her death, the family of Belinda Emmett continue to mourn her sad passing every day with emotional tributes on social media.
In an exclusive interview with New Idea, the beloved actress’ parents have opened up about life after Belinda and how they’re still in touch with her TV star widower Rove McManus.
Rove, 43, married Belinda in a fairytale ceremony in 2005, while she was battling terminal breast cancer – more than a year before her death.
But the TV host has stayed in contact with Belinda’s parents, who have developed a special bond with Rove’s daughter Ruby, three, from his second marriage, to 43-year-old actress Tasma Walton.
‘Rove’s got his own wife and we respect that, but we stay close,’ says Belinda’s father Michael, who adds that he’s met Ruby.
‘It’s nice to have the little ones around. We’ve got our own grandchildren and they’ve all grown. The oldest is at university, and you do miss those little children. So it’s lovely to have [Ruby] in our lives as well. It’s not in a huge way, but it’s pretty wonderful.’
Speaking from their family home near Ettalong Beach on the NSW Central Coast, Michael and his wife Laraine continue to suffer overwhelming grief over their daughter’s death from metastatic breast cancer in 2006 – at the age of just 32.
Belinda’s stunning smile beams from countless pictures hung around their living room – including a gorgeous image from her wedding to Rove.
But it’s the memorial they’ve created in Belinda’s honour – a park bench on a peaceful stretch of the Ettalong coastline – where her mum regularly places a new photo alongside a plaque that reads: ‘Belinda Jane Emmett-McManus: I choose to be happy, so I am. Her grace, courage and talent are an inspiration to all.’
‘We have a memorial seat for her down near Ettalong, by the playground, where she used to jog and swim,’ says Michael, adding he is still bewildered about how such a healthy person could die so young from cancer.
‘She never smoked in her life, and only occasionally had a wine. For her to be struck down is probably the most remarkable, ridiculous thing. She did all the right things, ate the right foods. For her to be struck down is a travesty of justice. But she did more in her 32 years than most people do in 90.’
Despite Belinda’s passing, the family continue to celebrate her as if she were still alive – even holding a 40th birthday party for her three years ago, complete with a spectacular cake.
‘On things like her birthday, we make the effort. We go to her seat frequently, and just sit there and contemplate,’ says Michael. ‘They’re just our ways to show her we remember her. We remember her every day.’
For the full story, see this week’s New Idea – Out now.
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