The Wright family have endured an incredibly tough year – but have supported each other during all the hard times.
The popular Essex clan first rose to fame in 2010 when Mark Wright became the star of The Only Way Is Essex, appearing in the first series alongside sister Jess and the incredible Nanny Pat.
Over the years we’ve seen even more members of the family join the reality TV series – with parents Carol and Mark Wright Snr. making regular appearances – while brother Josh is also a famous footballer who has played for Millwall and Leyton Orient.
When Mark left TOWIE he starred in his own spin-off series Mark Wright’s Hollywood Nights alongside his pals and cousin Georgie Wright.
Then we saw the other side of the family as cousin Elliott Wright and his sister Leah joined the cast – with the businessman going on to have his own series Play in Marbella.
Viewers grew to love the Wright family’s hilarious and heartwarming antics and Nanny Pat became a national treasure, but we have also experienced the hard times as well.
There have been the tragic deaths of Carol’s mum Pat and Elliott’s dad Eddie, who sadly died from Covid earlier this year.
Heartbroken Mark has admitted his family will never be the same after coronavirus has ripped them apart – striking down six relatives.
Before they were on the TV, the Wright family suffered a financial collapse that still impacts Mark to this day.
And most recently, Elliott lost his beloved restaurant after it was burnt down in a blaze but he has vowed to come back stronger.
Here is a look at some of the tragedies the Wright family have experienced.
The Wright family lost everything a quarter of a century ago – and it still haunts Mark to this day.
Mark Snr. and Carol’s business investments collapsed and the family “lost everything”, forcing them to rebuild from the ground up.
“Financially we got hit hard and lost everything – I really felt that anxiety as a kid,” Mark told Fabulous Magazine last August.
“I don’t suffer from mental health issues and I’d never claim that, but what I do struggle with is being so driven and passionate about everything I do and always wanting the next thing, the next job, to earn more money and to keep on succeeding.”
Seeing what his parents endured 25 years ago has made Mark determined to carry on building his fortune in case history repeats itself.
He added: “That’s something that’s stuck with me all through my life since childhood and comes from the trauma of seeing what my mum and dad went through.
“Just watching them go from having it all to having absolutely nothing.”
Nanny Pat passes away
Patricia Brooker, better known as Nanny Pat, was the amazing 80-year-old grandmother of Mark and Jess.
TOWIE viewers loved seeing Nanny Pat having fun with her grandkids, getting involved in the latest gossip and making her famous sausage platt.
So there was much sadness when the Wright family confirmed that Carol’s mum has passed away following a short illness in December 2015 at the age of 80.
“Sadly our amazing, courageous and beautiful Nanny Pat passed away this morning after a short illness,” a spokesperson for the family said.
“We are overwhelmed by sadness, and the whole family ask for privacy at this horrible time.”
It came just a month after the TOWIe cast filmed a massive 80th birthday bash – with a regal-looking Pat arriving in a lvish horse drawn carriage while dressed as the Queen.
Writing on Twitter, Mark Wright said: “My heart is broken but so overwhelmed by your support. To know good ole Nanny was loved by so many is the best feeling in the world Thank you.”
Eddie’s tragic death
In March this year came the devastating news that Elliott’s father Edward Wright had passed away after battling Covid.
Eddie lost his battle to coronavirus after eight weeks, leaving the Wright family distraught as they paid tribute to the ‘glue’ who kept the entire family stuck together.
Writing an emotional message on social media, son Elliott said: “It is with heart-wrenching regret, that I have to post this post, my father Edward George Wright passed away peacefully with his family by his side on the 02.03.2021 after bravely fighting Covid for 8 weeks…
“For those who knew my father, you know what a great man he was, always smiling, always humble, always happy, despite the fact in his later years he bravely fought prostrate cancer, he never moaned and done his best to put a brave smile on..
“His love for his family is what he will be remembered for to all of us, the ultimate family man, wanting to spend every woken minute with his 10 grandkids and children was his only daily thought pattern and request, was that to be with them, the ultimate family man.
“For those who don’t know me well, the impact this has had on me, what can I say, I’m simply devastated!”
Eddie’s nephew Mark wrote: “You’d have to be God to find a better man than my uncle. Put simply, you won’t. I love you, uncle Eddie, I’m never going to forget you. Broken to pieces.”
His “broken” niece Jess said Eddie was not just an uncle but “like a second dad” to her in a heartbreaking tribute, claiming he had left “the biggest hole in our family’s heart because you were everything that represented the Wrights”.
There were also tributes from TOWIE cast members such as Mario Falcone and close friends like James Argent, with Mark’s wife Michelle calling him “such a special man”.
Covid rips family apart
A heartbroken Mark was left in tears earlier this month as he opened up about the coronavirus ripping his family apart.
The deadly virus, which was responsible for the death of uncle Eddie, struck down six relatives, including his parents and elderly grandparents.
Four of his loved ones ended up in hospital in a short period of time and Mark feared he was going to lose them all.
“Covid tore my family apart and it’s not going to be the same again,” he explained during a tearful interview with The Sun.
Admitting he was struggling to cope, Mark continued: “In December and January, I was at a point with a grandma, grandpa, mum, dad and uncle — when I could have lost them all.”
The former TOWIE star was particularly concerned for his dad Mark Snr. when brother Josh sent a text saying he was really worried as his eyes changed and oxygen levels were very low.
He added: “I am sat here one uncle less. He’s the heart of our family. We’re all heartbroken beyond belief. I’m trying to be there for many, many family members who are devastated.”
Mark was unable to visit his dad, grandmother Irene or late uncle Eddie while they were in hospital.
The horrifying experience has made Mark change his outlook on life and brought the already tight family even closer together.
Elliott’s Wright restaurant fire
This week came the devastating news that Elliott’s Costa del Sol restaurant has been burnt down.
The former TOWIE star’s business, Olivia’s La Cala, was gutted by a blaze on Monday morning – just hours after the venue was open and serving customers Sunday lunches and dinners.
Alarming photos of the restaurant show the location covered in black soot and burnt to a crisp with nothing left apart from the outside structure of the eatery.
Three fire engines rushed to the scene along with police and paramedics in La Cala de Mijas near Fuengirola, Málaga after the alarm was raised around 5.30am.
There is no official word yet on the cause of the fire and whether it could have been started deliberately, but police have launched an investigation.
Speaking outside the scene of the gutted premises, Elliot said: “I’ve got no enemies. We’ve only ever had good support.
“It might be just one of those unfortunate things.”
Following the fire, Elliott took to his Instagram page to vow to rebuild the restaurant and admitted that the situation has “tested” him.
Alongside a snap of the outside of Olivia’s La Cala showing the ruins left by the blaze, the businessman wrote: “So I will get this out there as no doubt this news will spread fast…
“Unfortunately it’s with regret that @olivias_la_cala had a fire in the early hours of this morning… it’s too soon to say why, all that matters is it has.
“More importantly in life you get tested.. it’s been a very testing couple of years.. especially recently..
“But if you know me, you know I will rise from this.. I will rebuild it big and better then before.. I will never be beaten.”
Elliott has received support from family and friends, including close pal James Argent and cousin Mark Wright.
“You will come back stronger boy,” Mark wrote on Instragram, adding a blue love heart emoji and: “Love you @ElliottWright_.”
A spokesman for the Civil Guard, the force which covers La Cala de Mijas where Olivia’s opened in August 2015, said: “Our officers attended the scene of the blaze and the question of what caused it will now be the focus of a police investigation.
“We can ask for the report from the fire crews that attended if necessary but we also have our own fire investigation specialists who are trained to look at these sort of things.
“Their findings will be sent to a local court.”