Wife of Sheffield Steelers legend Mark Thomas loses battle with cancer
Tributes have been paid to a brave mother-of-two and wife of a Sheffield Steelers legend who died after a one-year cancer battle.
Vicki Thomas, 36, the wife of Sheffield Steelers’ veteran Mark ‘Tomo’ Thomas, lost her battle with breast cancer on Monday night.
In a statement posted on Twitter, Mark said his wife died peacefully at the Christie Hospital in Manchester.
The former Steelers’ defenceman said: “I am sorry to let everyone know that last night at 9pm, Vic passed away peacefully, almost a year after being diagnosed she lost her battle to this horrible disease.
“I’m struggling to put into words how I’m feeling at the moment but I can’t thank everyone for the unbelievable support over the last 10 days or so since she was admitted to hospital.
“The Christie’s nurses and staff have been amazing and we are so lucky to have a hospital so close to us.
“The boys and I will need time to get our heads around this but we will continue to make her proud everyday as she wouldn’t want us to do any different.
“To Vic – thank you for being you, the best wife and a mother a man could ask for, the boys and I love you so much.”
Sheffield Steelers also put out a heartfelt tribute on its website on Vicki’s passing, saying the Steelers’ group during Mark’s time in the club was special, as they were a tightly-knitted band of players and their wives.
The statement said: “The Thomas, Hewitt, Legue, Phillips, Munn, Dagenais, Finnerty, Lehman and Sarich’s of this world.
“Mark and Vicki were at the forefront of all that happened in that time. Vicki was one of the most popular people ever associated with this club.
“The Steelers have Mark and Vicki in their DNA, the Steelers family are truly saddened by this wonderful ladies’ loss.
“As a club and as a fan base, we will be there for Mark and his family. Mark and Vicki have two special young sons, Bailey and Harley. Our sincere and deepest condolences go out to them all.”
The club’s media manager David Simms also extended his condolences to the family.
He described Vicki as ‘the most popular member of our audience’, he said she never missed a single home game throughout the 10-year period when Mark was with the club.
“Everybody in the club is devastated by the news. Mark was a player for Sheffield Steelers for 10 years and played 115 games for us and Vicki was at every home game,” he said.
“She was very well known in our building and when she became ill last year, we did major fundraising events to raise funds for Prevent Breast Cancer charity.
“She was a very popular member of our audience and we are all destroyed by the news.
“As a club as an individual, we will do whatever we can especially for Mark and their two sons,” he said.
The Star's ice hockey writer Bob Westerdale said: “Mark will always be a member of the Steelers’ family and there is a profound sense of shock and sorrow for him and their two sons today.
“Vicki has fought cancer so bravely and my heart goes out to her family.”
Mark’s former team-mate Jason Hewitt, who he played junior ice hockey with before signing for London Raiders together in 2004, said he was ‘absolutely heartbroken’.
He said: “There are no words that could do justice to Vic as a person and friend. She had an infectious personality and would be the life of any party.
“We had a special relationship and with just a ‘Jay’ she put me in line! I will cherish the memories we made forever.”
In a statement, Sheffield Steeldogs, who play in the newly-formed NIHL National Division, said: “Everyone at the Sheffield Steeldogs is greatly saddened to hear that Vicki Thomas lost her battle with cancer.
“Vicki was wife of long-time Steeler Mark and the whole Thomas family have been active and popular figures in hockey in Sheffield for many years.“We send our condolences to Mark, Bailey and Harley Thomas and to all their family and friends at this time.”
In December last year, members of Sheffield Steelers shaved their heads after their game against The Manchester Storm to raise money for the cancer charity in support of Vicki.
Mark currently coaches at Manchester Storm Academy, three years after retiring from a fine career at Sheffield Steelers and Manchester Phoenix. He also had 41 appearances for Great Britain.