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Please note, this story contains sensitive topics such as death, bereavement and grief. If you need support, then please do not hesitate to contact the Together for Short Lives team who are here to help. Support is completely free and confidential. If you need to speak to someone, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
We’re proud to be partnered with Together for Short Lives, the UK charity helping every child and family living with a life-limiting or life-threatening condition get the very best care and support they need so they can make the most of every moment together. As part of our partnership, each of our villages raises funds for their closest children’s hospice – for Elveden Forest, that’s East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices (EACH).
Read Tom’s story below and find out how EACH provided vital support to the whole family when they needed it most:
"Tom had a real zest for life. A ray of sunshine, he loved nothing more than being around his family.”
Eleven-year-old Tom had lived with a range of complex health issues, having been diagnosed with rare brain conditions, chronic lung disease - meaning he was often in hospital with chest infections - and a severe form of epilepsy. Then came the dreaded C-word, in the form of Osteosarcoma.
“Tom was special and as soon as you met him you loved him. Anyone would say the same,” says his mum, Nicky. “All he wanted to give and receive was love and he had so much to offer. He was just a happy, happy boy. He loved his family, and he loved his home. He was such a pleasure, and we were so lucky to have him in our lives.”
When treatment was no longer an option…
Tom’s family moved into The Treehouse hospice on Christmas Day 2020 to spend their remaining time together as a family. It was there that Tom and his family received care and support from the team at EACH.
“EACH was a fantastic support to us,” said Nicky. “I knew I’d reached a point where looking after him was beyond my capability. Medically, we were in a place no parent can cope with. So, at 8pm on Christmas night, an ambulance rolled up and we went to The Treehouse.”
A nurse and care assistant left their family on Christmas Day to open the hospice for Tom and his family. They lived there and were cared for by the team for 16 days.
“Staff decorated the hospice and made him food and cakes. It was so cruelly ironic that we should find ourselves in that situation, on what should have been such a momentous day. You couldn’t make it up, but they made it as special as it could be,” says Nicky.
In her darkest hour, Nicky says she will forever be grateful for that care and support.
“I was at a stage where it was impossible to cope but I had the staff there to put an arm around me. They gave us support, and just being in the hospice and being able to go and sit in the woods, was invaluable.”
The family continued to receive bereavement support to help them through their grief.
“EACH has also been a great comfort since losing Tom,” said Nicky. “I’ve had therapy once a week since we lost him and this has been very helpful indeed. This wraparound care has been very helpful and supportive to us.”
“We’re so grateful for everything EACH has done for us, particularly during those last 16 days.”
Our partnership with Together for Short Lives
Together for Short Lives support the 54 children’s hospices in the UK, like East Anglia Children’s Hospice (EACH), and families like Tom’s. By donating to Together for Short Lives you can help families to make the most of every moment of their child’s short life, whether that’s for years, months or only hours.