A couple whose son died in a driveway tragedy two years ago have received a devastating cancer diagnosis.

But Bill and Natalie Shearer don't want your pity.

They want your help to finish the goal set in motion by their little boy's death.

The couple are the parents of Marley Shearer, who died aged two in June 2014 when he was run over by a roller being used by his father to compact loose shingle on the driveway of the family's West Auckland home. No charges were laid following Marley's death.


From their loss came a very special goal, the decision to create a retreat in Marley's memory.

Bill and Natalie pictured with their son Marley (who died in a driveway tragedy two years ago) and daughter, Ella on their wedding day. Photo / Givealittle
Bill and Natalie pictured with their son Marley (who died in a driveway tragedy two years ago) and daughter, Ella on their wedding day. Photo / Givealittle

Natalie, 38, told the Weekend Herald the project, named New Beginnings Eco Retreat, would be designed to help those who are grieving and would include a variety of holistic therapies for those in need.

Last year the couple bought a 28 hectare property at Marehemo, near Maungaturoto on the Kaipara Harbour, and set about renovating a run-down one bedroom 1840s settler cottage on-site, with a view to eventually adding further accommodation for those in need of support in their grief.

But early into the project Bill, a builder, became unwell.

Ten days ago the 37-year-old was diagnosed with stage four plasmablastic lymphoma. The prognosis is bleak and he has decided not to have chemotherapy.

The couple are now focussing on getting renovations on the cottage finished so, if the worst happens, Natalie and the couple's nine-year-old daughter, Ella, have a roof over their heads.

But they also haven't forgotten their original goal. Once their home is completed, they want plans to develop a retreat to continue, even if he is not there, Bill said.

"The idea is to help people through their experience. It's not about building a huge empire, it's about building a space where there's a chance to heal... fingers crossed I'm going to be around for a while longer, but it would give me piece of mind to know that Natalie wouldn't have to worry about a roof over their heads.

"And with the retreat, for me in a way it keeps the memory of Marley alive a wee bit. We do feel like his presence is driving us. I'm just really grateful for the help that we've had through our difficult times, to be able to pass that on, that's what means the most to me."

Some work on the cottage had been completed, but there was a lot to be done, he said.

"Think The Block renovation, but on a much smaller scale."

Any help, financial, volunteering for future planned working bees or even simply keeping the family in their thoughts, would be gratefully received, Natalie said.

"We are not sad ... we really don't want people to feel sorry for us ... we want people when they think of us to send positive thoughts and help in any way they can.

"We feel that everything does kind of happen for a reason and we have to do the best we can."

The couple have already received many offers of help from the community, and a Give a Little page has also been set up. It had raised more than $15,000 by yesterday afternoon.

Follow the couple's journey at https://www.facebook.com/loveformarleyretreat/?pnref=lhc.