Serial entrepreneur Martin Keelagher has opened up about the death of his wife Claire from a rare cancer called Krukenberg tumours.

Keelagher holds multiple roles including CEO and chair of venture capital and advisory business Walford Cunningham & Hayes; CEO of Agile Automations; director of Security Access Systems; and non-executive director of KeyGeni.

He decided to launch Claire’s Wishes in memory of his wife Claire who died in January just six months after being diagnosed with a rare condition called Krukenberg tumours.

The couple – who have a young son called Monty – got married on January 2nd, 2024 at The Christie but tragically she died just eight days later.

A few days ago he joined his wife’s former work colleagues in completing the Yorkshire Three Peak Challenge on behalf of the non-profit Claire’s Wishes.

Keelagher added: “Life is short. You have to make the most of your time. Sometimes you’ve got to realise what’s around you now rather than looking at what you want in five years because you might not get there.

“We had a real good life and some great memories.

“We set up Claire’s Wishes so that other families going through the same thing have somewhere to go.”

The rise and fall of Cazoo – the inside story

A Krukenberg tumour refers to a malignancy in the ovary that metastasized from a primary site, classically the gastrointestinal system. In Claire’s case it was in her stomach.

The cancer is particularly common in women before the age of 40 and Keelagher wants to raise awareness of the condition.

The 38-year-old first met his future wife – then called Claire Comer – on Tinder nearly a decade ago.

“Our first date was at The Oast House in Manchester, followed by a meal at Albert’s Schloss and a walk around the Christmas market,” he recalled.

“She was such an intelligent and driven individual. She was compassionate. When you meet the right person it drives you forward.

“We had a lot in common. She was very career-driven. She was very organised while I was all over the place.

“When we first met she thought I had money but she soon worked out that wasn’t true!

“We intended to get engaged and married but then our son Monty was born in April 2021. It was something we always wanted and we hoped to have more kids. Claire was a natural Mum. Monty was her world.”

The first sign that anything was wrong with her health was when she started to feel unwell during a charity walk in June 2023.

A scan found cancer in her stomach and her ovaries. Because the cancer had initially been asymptomatic by the time she was diagnosed with Krukenberg tumours in August 2023 the cancer was at stage four.

“She had her ovaries removed and started on chemo,” recalled her husband. “We never thought we’d lose to it but the cancer had gone to her bowels.”

Claire initially responded so well to treatment that she was able to return to her job at Leeds-based DePuy Synthes, but her health took a turn for the worse when she suffered an obstruction in her bowel.

She was treated at The Christie and got married to her long-term partner a week before she died.

‘We bit off more than we could chew’ – ex-Orka CEO

“Claire was so strong. She’d always led a healthy life. The reality was it never sunk in,” said Keelagher. “Getting married was something we wanted to do and Claire wanted to have the same surname as Monty.”

Claire created a memory chest for her son before she died.

Find out more about Claire’s Wishes here. Donations can be made here