Strictly's Gemma Atkinson reveals heartwarming way she believes her late dad makes contact with her

Gemma Atkinson has candidly opened up about the heartbreaking loss of her father, David, who passed away over two decades ago. The former Hollyoaks star took to Instagram to share her heartache on the anniversary of his death - but revealed the special way she keeps in touch with him.

The 39 year old actress and radio presenter lost her dad "very suddenly" and "unexpectedly" to a heart attack when she was just a teenager, with her father being only 52 at the time of his passing.

On Saturday (April 27), the Strictly star reflected on the significant date, posting an emotional video on Instagram where she discussed the impact of her father's death and how she planned to commemorate the day.

In her heartfelt message, Gemma said: "It's 23 years today since my dad died. 23 years without seeing my dad. It's crazy when you think I've had more time without him than with him for a long time now. And I've got friends now who are at the age he was when he died. And it really wasn't old. When you look at it now, it was not old at all."

Gemma, who is engaged to professional dancer Gorka Marquez and shares two children with him, revealed her intentions to visit her father's grave with her youngest child.

"So yeah, [will] have a little trip to the cemetery later. Take Thiago up. Mia [is busy]. But yeah, 23 years - crikey!" she shared with her followers.

The former Emmerdale star Gemma Atkinson then opened up about feeling her late father's presence, suggesting he might be behind the appearance of a robin in her garden, reports the Mirror.

She shared this heartfelt thought after posting a video on Saturday that captured a squirrel, a robin, and a blackbird visiting her outdoor space. Gemma reflected, "Cheers dad, wherever you are. He's probably the one sending that robin everyday, bless him."

Gemma also took to Instagram to share a nostalgic snapshot with her dad, alongside a message from a follower grieving their own father: "Does it get easier? My dad died last year and the pain is just horrendous. I have days where I'm ok and then some days it sweeps over me and taints everything I do."

In a comforting reply, Gemma offered words of support: "I'm sorry for your loss. I've [had] lots of these [messages]. It does get easier for sure. I mean, life is never the same but you learn to adjust to your new normal."

She continued to express how her father remains in her thoughts, saying, "There's not a day where my dad doesn't pop into my head randomly (I believe that's his way of communicating) and I still occasionally get angry that he didn't get to meet Mia and Tio and Gorka."