"A loving son, a brilliant brother and a supportive friend" - devastated family of Reece Ottaway pay tribute
Main article content
Reece Ottaway with mum Charlotte Marshall
The family of Reece Ottaway have spoken of the agony of living without the man they describe as a loving son, brilliant brother and supportive friend.
Paying tribute, his mother Charlotte Marshall described her ‘talented’ eldest son as devoted to his younger siblings, Josh, aged 21, Georgia, aged 20, Lily, aged nine, and Deacon, aged seven, and passionate about his hobbies and friends.
She said: “Reece was such a loving son, and a brilliant big brother. He had such a special bond with Josh, Georgia, Deacon and Lily, and was always so supportive of his friends, he was always willing to help.
“He loved fishing, breakdancing, gaming and riding his BMX bike – he won sponsorship deals he was so talented – whatever he tried his hand at, he’d be very good at it.
“Reece was also a big animal lover, especially of our family dogs Elvis and Minnie, and his cat Sylvia.”
Reece Ottaway with siblings Lily and Deacon Marshall
His father David Ottaway and stepmum Sonia added: “The way he was with his little sister Meadow, who’s three, he was absolutely besotted with her. When he came round the first thing he’d do was grab Meadow and say hello, he’d have her in hysterics in seconds and her eyes just lit up when he came in the room.
“Meadow really misses Reece, she doesn’t understand where he’s gone. She has a picture of him in her room and says goodnight and blows him a kiss every night.”
Born in Rugby, Reece spent much of his childhood in Daventry, where he played an active role in developing the town’s skate park, before moving to Northampton in his early 20s.
David said: “When Reece was at the skate park he’d stop riding to help the younger kids and make sure they had a turn, helping them to learn and improve.
“He was absolutely phenomenal on his BMX, just brilliant. Whatever Reece did, he was good at, he was a natural. There aren’t many people like him.”
David, Reece and Sonia shared a love of cars, with Reece also enjoying drifting events. Father and son would work together to do up vehicles as well as go to car shows at Santa Pod and Silverstone.
David said: “Reece loved his cars, and Japanese cars were his favourite, he loved them with a passion – his dream cars were the Toyota AE86 and Nissan Silvia PS13.
“We’d work on our cars together, and that shared interest gave us such a connection. It was more of a best friend bond than father and son, we would ring and text each other every day, and I miss that more than I can say.”
After Reece died, family and friends came together to complete the restoration of his latest project, a 1992 Nissan Micra, getting it back on the road for his funeral in Rugby, where hundreds of mourners paid their respects.
At the end of the service, the family showed a video of Reece dancing to the OutKast song Hey Ya!
Charlotte said: “We wanted to do something to make people smile through their tears, so we played the video of Reece dancing – and it was the silliest dancing, very typical of Reece and his personality.”
At the wake, family and friends enjoyed a bagel bar and rave party, celebrating Reece’s favourite food and love of going to dance events all over the country with friends including his brother Josh.
Reece Ottaway with brother Joshua Ottaway
The last time Charlotte saw Reece was at a family meal where his sister Georgia revealed the baby she was expecting would be a little boy, who now shares his middle name with the uncle he never got to meet.
Charlotte said: “We all went out to celebrate and when Reece was going he said he’d come to see me on the Thursday and said ‘love you mum’. Then on the Thursday he didn’t turn up, and we got the call in the early hours of that Friday to say he’d died.”
A fan of designer clothing whose favourite colour was red, Reece was always well-dressed regardless of the occasion, and his family remember him as a polite and respectful boy everyone was proud of.
Charlotte said: “I was only 17 when Reece was born, he made me a mum. I had to grow up when I had him, and I loved being his mum – I saved all my wages to buy his pram and I was so proud taking him out in it.
“So many people have got in touch with their memories of Reece since he died, and it’s comforting to know that others loved him as much as we do, but it also brings home how much of a waste and loss it all is. There’s a massive hole, a huge missing piece gone from our family.”
Every Sunday Charlotte finds herself sitting in the spot on the sofa where Reece would sit when he came to visit. “He always sat in the same place, and now I sit there because I can’t bear to see the empty space where he should be,” she said.
Stepdad Lee Marshall added: “Reece loved his family and his friends, he valued life and made the most of it.
“He was an amazing stepson, and I feel privileged to have been his stepdad for just over 10 years. When I think of Reece, he has a smile on his face and I can picture him walking in like he always did, saying ‘alright little man’ to Deacon.
“Losing Reece has ruined our lives, but we carry on for the children. There are no words for how much we miss him.”
For dad David, Reece’s generosity of spirit and personable nature have provided special memories.
He said: “Reece had the biggest heart, it was massive. He had so many friends, people were just attracted to him and he could win anyone over with a smile.
“He had an infectious smile – just seeing him smile would make you smile.”
While the trial was a difficult experience for the family, they have welcomed the outcome and sentences for the five men convicted over Reece’s killing.
Charlotte said: “It was very hard to listen to the evidence, especially the descriptions of his injuries and seeing the weapons used. I’m relieved the jury saw through what was said about Reece to convict those responsible for his death.
“What losing Reece has done to us as a family has been terrible, we’re all suffering and we have lost friends who just don’t know how to cope with our grief. We wake up to a nightmare, instead of waking up from a nightmare, and it’s like that every single day.”
David added: “Reece had a chequered past, but he always helped people – he’d give you the shirt off his back if you needed it.
“It doesn’t matter what he did or how he made his money, he didn’t deserve to die like that.”
Looking to the future, Charlotte plans to set up a foundation in her son’s name to help families affected by murder.
She said: “I’d like to raise money to provide respite holidays for families who have been through something like this, to help them deal with the trauma. It’s so much for children to take in, the sadness and suddenness of it all.
“I need something to focus on now, and I’m also going to do some counselling training so I can help other people – if I can put our awful experience to use to help others, then perhaps something good can come out of all this. I know other people saw Reece the man, but to me he was and always will be my little boy and I will mourn him for the rest of my life.”