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NEWS: St Thomas’ Association raise £400 to support brain injury rehabilitation centre

Words by Ed King / Pics supplied by St Thomas’ Association and Google Maps)

Earlier this year, members of the St Thomas’ Association handed over a cheque of £400 to West Heath House – a Birmingham based rehabilitation centre that provides care and support for people recovering from brain injury.

The money was raised after kind hearted people at the Erdington social club, situated on Station Road, held fundraising raffles over six weeks and generated a total of £1000 for charity.

Donations were also made to Birmingham Hospice Partnership – who operate John Taylor Hospice on Grange Road, the Alzheimer’s Society – and Guide Dogs for the Blind. 

West Heath House, based in West Heath, is run by the national charity Brainkind and is and is one of the only places in the city that can offer ‘innovative rehabilitation and ongoing support to enable people to thrive after a brain injury.’

The South Birmingham facility was chosen by people from St Thomas’ Association after one of their longstanding members – Colin Anderson, who has played dominoes at the club for over 30 years – became a resident at West Heath House.

Staff from the centre took time from their own personal life to escort Colin to a special dominoes league presentation night at St Thomas’ Association in October last year, traveling across Birmingham and back again, and won the hearts of the people who use the club and know Colin.

After receiving the generous donation from St Thomas’ Association, West Heath House Service Manager, Paul Higgins, responded in writing by saying: ‘I would like to thank all members of the St Thomas Association for their amazingly kind donation. The money will be used for the people we support in a way of their choosing.’

St Thomas’ Association has been part of the Erdington community for nearly 130 years, having first opened its doors in 1895. The club recently had an upgrade worth £200k and offers a vibrant social and events calendar – alongside top of the range facilities for private parties, functions, and corporate bookings.

For more on St Thomas’ Association visit www.saint-toms.co.uk or call (0121) 373 4144

For more on West Heath House visit www.brainkind.org/services/west-heath-house

NEWS: Kingstanding rallies round family after sudden death of kind hearted mum and animal lover

Words by Kingstanding editorial team

The Kingstanding community has rallied round a kind hearted local family, after the sudden death of a 42-year-old mum left behind more than just her grieving loved ones.

Animal lover Clare Banks, who had attended Stockland Green School, could never turn her back on an animal in distress, and along with her long-term partner Simon and their seventeen-year-old son Mikey had adopted a house full of rescue animals.

But following her fatal heart attack at home earlier this year, Clare’s tragic and sudden death also left her beloved 22-year-old horse Tallulah facing an uncertain future – with the horse potentially being put down if the stable costs to keep her could not be met.

Clare’s friend Louise Jordan, who also looks after Tallulah’s sister, launched a GoFundMe page to safeguard the horses’ future and prevent her being put down if a buyer cannot be found.

Within 48 hours nearly 40 people donated more than £1,300 to the online campaign, smashing the target of £1000 and ensuring Tallulah had the finance needed to keep her safe and pay for her upkeep at the stables where devoted Clare had cared for her.

Louise Jordan told: “Clare was just 42 when she unexpectedly lost her life. The family have requested no flowers, but instead are asking for donations to help look after her beloved horse (Tallulah) who’s missing her so much.”

A well loved member of the Kingstanding community, hundreds of people turned out for Clare’s funeral on Friday 13 October at Streetly Crematorium and for the wake held at New Oscott Social Club.

Greving partner Simon, 47, explained: “Clare was like Dr Doolittle, I’ve never known anyone love or care for animals like she did.

“When she was a girl, she found an injured squirrel and managed to tame her and have it as a pet for years, its unheard of to that with a wild squirrel.

“She was one of a kind. I’ve so many pets now, including four dogs; she would always get her way when it came to saving a dog from being put down. She should have been a vet.”

He added: “She even convinced me to get two horses, not one, when she told me Tallulah’s sister needed a home too. And she presented the horse to her friend as a Mother’s Day present, because she was like that.”

“However, we need to ensure Tallulah is looked after so she can stay with her sister at the stables in Walsall Wood. So many people have come forward, because she touched so many lives.”

Simon, an asbestos removal manager, added: “Kingstanding has just been amazing, so many people have offered their love and support.

“There is not a lot that can be said at the moment, we are all in shock. All I can do is give people a hug and thank them.”

To help support Tallulah and donate to the appeal, visit www.gofundme.com/f/keep-clares-horse-whos-missing-her-so-much – or search ‘Keep Clare’s horse’ on www.GoFundMe.com

NEWS: Erdington Walking Group raises hundreds for Diabetes UK at Birmingham Wellness Walk

Words by Liam Smith / Pics by Erdington Walking Group

A local walking group has raised over £350 for Diabetes UK, after taking part in the 10k Birmingham Wellness Walk last month.

Erdington Walking Group (EWG), formed in 2019, gathered in vibrant Diabetes UK t-shirts and painted faces, after taking inspiration from their Diabetes community program run from the Erdington Seventh Day Adventist Church on Wood End Lane. Led by Selina Gooden, the EWG surpassed their fundraising goal and helped support vital research and care services provided by Diabetes UK.

According to the charity, over 4.3 million people in the UK live with diabetes, with almost 14 thousand diabetes related deaths reported in 2019 alone.

Diabetes UK research further states the number of people registering with diabetes from 2020-21 rose by 148,951 from the previous year, with ‘more than 2.4 million people are at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes in the UK’ –  with the condition leading to ‘184 amputations, more than 770 strokes, 590 heart attacks and 2,300 cases of heart failure’ every week.

EWG Leader Selina Gooden told Erdington Local: “I’m thankful to all who helped me to achieve my personal fundraising goal of £100, and due to the funds raised by the other EWG team members we were able to surpass our £100 goal by collectively raising £355 for Diabetes UK.”

Among the cheering crowd, Diabetes UK marshals offered support and encouragement along the route – with live music also adding to the festive yet fundraising atmosphere.

EWG member Hermy Skew said: “I walk daily and have been doing so for years. It helps me process my thoughts and enables my emotions to settle safely. It has kept me physically fit and psychologically resilient.

“My father passed away recently. He had diabetes and all the complications that come with chronic illnesses. A lot of my family and extended family suffer with the condition and its complications.

“Participating in the Birmingham Wellness Walk was an ideal opportunity to support research, indulge in my favourite hobby, and remember my father.

“It was an enjoyable experience, and I was touched by the support of my sponsors and well-wishers who helped me raise £115.” 

Diabetes UK Fundraising Events Manager, Rachel Coombs, added: “My heartfelt thanks to each and every person who walked, supported and fundraised. So far, the event has raised £92,000 for vital funds for the charity.”

For more on EWG visit www.facebook.com/erdingtonwalking or call Selina on 07990 109 117

NEWS: Local support worker ‘braves the shave’ to raise hundreds for Macmillan Cancer Support

Words by Ed King / Pics supplied by Debbie Bates

As many people got glammed up ahead of a last minute New Year’s Eve reprieve, one local support worker was shaving herself bald – raising well over a thousand pounds for Macmillan Cancer Support.

On 28 December, Debbie Bates decided to ‘Brave the Shave’ and have her long flowing locks lopped off for charity, generating over £1300 in sponsorship and donations for the national cancer support organisation.

Debbie’s long brown hair, which reached far down her back, was further donated to The Little Princess Trust – a UK based charity providing free real hair wigs to young people who have lost their hair after cancer treatment or other illnesses.

Click here to make an online donation to Debbie Bates’s Brave the Shave campaign, accepting contributions until the end of January 2022.

Debbie, who is a qualified social worker and the Health and Wellbeing Development Manager for Witton Lodge Community Association (WLCA), was spurned to shave off her hair in respect of family members who have died of cancer – including her own mother, Shirley Reynolds, who passed away tragically young aged only 38.

Shirley Reynolds would have celebrated her seventieth birthday on 28 December, the day that Debbie decided to ‘brave the shave’ and have her hair cut off for the cancer charity – surrounded by friends and family at The Royal Oak pub in Kingsbury, Tamworth.

Debbie told: “Brave the Shave was a very personal and emotional experience for me as my mum had beautiful long hair which ‘fell out’ due to chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

“The most humbling thing about the experience was listening to stories from so many friends and colleagues who have also lost loved ones to cancer.

“Having them share their memories and listening to their experiences is something that will stay with me forever.”

Shirley Reynolds

At the time of writing, Debbie Bates had raised over £1380 for Macmillan Cancer Support – smashing her original target of £500, with people from across the community donating and showing support via Debbie’s official Brave the Shave page on the Macmillan website.

Debbie O’Connor posted: “Such a fabulous thing to do Debbie and for such a worthy cause! You’re mom would be so proud. Hope you’ve got your woolly hat ready! Sending heavenly birthday wishes.”

Chantelle Holmes added: “It’s exactly what is says on the tin ‘Brave’, not many people could or would do it. You really are one truly inspiring woman.”

Brave the Shave is an annual fundraising initiative organised by Macmillan Cancer Support, one of the UK’s leading cancer charities.

Launched in 2015, the yearly shear has generated over £22.7 million in sponsorship and donations – a fantastic fundraising figure that could pay for 140 Macmillan nurses for three years.

Like many cancer charities, Macmillan is heavily reliant on  sponsorship and  donations to fund its staff and services.

Debbie Bates’s Brave the Shave campaign will be taking donations until the end of January 2022.

To make on online contribution to Debbie’s Brave the Save campaign visit www.bravetheshave.macmillan.org.uk/shavers/debbie-bates

For more information on Brave the Shave visit www.bravetheshave.macmillan.org.uk

NEWS: “I’m scared. I want to stay alive.” A race against time for Kingstanding mother kidney transplant

Words by Adam Smith / Pics supplied by Becky Roberts & family

A Kingstanding mother-of-three is in a desperate race against time as without a kidney transplant she has just two years to live.

Several potential donors have come forward but due to coronavirus the NHS is not testing people, creating “a death sentence” for Becky Roberts.

Without a Caribbean heritage donor Becky will not survive Anti-GBM Disease – a rare disorder where the immune system mistakenly attack vital organs.

Becky told Erdington Local: “I’m scared. I want to stay alive. It has been a nightmare whirlwind; I went into hospital on Christmas Eve in 2018 and was misdiagnosed with food poisoning.

“If I had not have gone back a few days later I would have died the next day because my kidneys were operating at 1%. I spent the next four months in hospital which turned my life upside down.

“I’ve got a one in a million rare disease which doctors say they only see once every ten years.”

She added: “I was told I had five years to live and that was three years ago, so I have two years left. Going private is now my only option because the NHS are not testing live donors due to the pandemic.”

Becky has haemodialysis three-time-a-week, four-hours per day, at the Castle Vale Dialysis Unit, and five of her family have offered to be tested to donate a kidney.

Daughter Aliyah launched a GoFundMe campaign last month which has already raised near to £100than £8,000 as well as several transplant volunteers.

Click here to visit the ‘Help Save Becky’s Life’ GoFundMe campaign page.

The former Great Barr School pupil said: “I’ve been overwhelmed by the generosity of everyone, I’ve had people I’ve not seen since school get in touch and donate money. I’ve even had people offer to donate kidneys.

“People are so kind; I need every penny I can get to stay alive. We need to raise £86,000 so I can see my children grow up.”

Becky’s daughter Aliyah added: “She has endured more than anybody should, experiencing chemotherapy treatment to help with the disease, losing her hair, and enduring countless operations over the past two years.”

For more click here or search ‘Help Save Becky’s Life’ on www.gofundme.com 

NEWS: Dying Castle Vale schoolgirl’s EuroDisney wish sparks massive community fundraising effort

Words by Adam Smith / Pics supplied by Keena Cespedes

A dying Castle Vale schoolgirl’s wish to see EuroDisney is a step closer after £4,600 was raised in a month by big-hearted friends, family, and the community.

Six-year-old Kionne Holding, who has an incurable rare form of epilepsy, wants to go meet the Little Mermaid with the rest of her family – but due the specialist disability travel arrangements the holiday could cost £10,000.

However, when her mother Keena Cespedes, who has been at her daughter’s side for the last 93 days at Birmingham Children’s Hospital, launched a GoFundMe page (Kionne’s Fund) in August there was an overwhelming response.

Click here or on the hyperlink above to visit the GoFundMe page – Kionne’s Fund

Kionne’s Fund has inspired online music festival fundraisers, reggae brunches, and raffles. Family friend Lee Crofts is also undertaking a sponsored ‘Castle Vale to Paris Triathlon’ which has so far raised £1,600.

Keena, aged 37, told Erdington Local: “I can’t even begin to say how amazing people have been since I told people about Kionne, friends, family, and strangers have sent me messages of support and my daughter presents.

I put up the GoFundMe page without thinking anything would happen, I would have been happy with £50 but it feels like the whole of Castle Vale has got involved, as well as people across Birmingham.

We have now raised more than £4,600. I know times are hard for people, so it really means a lot people are donating.”

Keena remembers Kionne as a bubbly, funny, lovable child before last November when she suddenly began having seizures and headaches. Two months later she was diagnosed with small tumor on her brain and a rare form of epilepsy called Lennox Gasture Syndrome.

Her condition deteriorated and she in the last nine months she’s lost the ability to walk, talk and eat. Doctors have given her various drugs, treatments, and alternative remedies but all to no avail.

Keena said: “Due to all the drugs she is on she does not understand what is being done for her and all the love people have for her, but we still are hoping to take her to EuroDisney with her sisters.”

Tragically Keena has already had to have a conversation with specialists about Kionne’s end of life care.

She said: “This syndrome has taken everything away from her and is slowly killing my baby. She is unable to walk, eat for herself, and now her speech is going. She now speaks like a three-year-old not a six-year-old. She cannot be treated and there is no cure. I’m coming to terms with my baby dying and the little time we have left with her.

All I want to do now is make her life as amazing as possible and one way is to get her on holiday with her sisters who she loves so much.”

And due to the coronavirus pandemic, Kionne has been unable to get visits and cuddles from her three sisters.

Keena added: “Only I can go and visit her because of COVID-19, Kionne misses her sisters and they miss her but there is nothing that can be done about that – that is why it would be wonderful if we could all go away together. We would need specialist care when we are there and have to stay in adapted hotels, but it can be done and we are hoping to go early next year now.”

Castle Vale fundraiser Lee Crofts has now cycled the distance from “The Ressies to Dover” and also organised a reggae brunch at Minworth Social Club.

He said: “We’ve had amazing gestures of support with events, raffles set up, prize donations, and raised £500 in a day.

The little superhero is fighting the hardest fight of all, so let’s make the dark days a little brighter and give her. Her wish of a holiday with her sisters to make some priceless memories.”

To sponsor Lee as he continues his bid to cycle, run and walk the distance to Paris, click here to visit the Kionne’s Wish PayPal page.

The Chivenor Primary School pupil has touched the hearts of the nurses at Birmingham Children’s Hospital, where she has been for the last three months.

Nurse Victoria Mulligan posted on the GoFundMe page: ‘I have had the pleasure of looking after Kionne and every shift she brightened my day with a massive smile and huge hug.

‘She holds on to you so that you can’t leave her side, she sings to you, she makes you laugh, she is super brave and absolutely deserves to go on holiday which will never make up for all she has gone through but will give her and her family an experience of happiness to remember forever.’

For more information or to donate to Kionne’s Fund visit: www.gofundme.com/f/kionnes-fund

To sponsor Lee Crofts – as he cycles, runs and walks the distance to Paris – visit the Kionne’s Wish PayPal page here: www.tiny.cc/qpaysz   

NEWS: Erdington United – local football heading for the big leagues

Words by Adam Smith / Pics courtesy of Erdington United

Erdington United could be a semi-professional club playing in its own stadium and hosting FA Cup ties within 15 years, under ambitious plans unveiled by its chairman this week.

The club is hoping to create a shining beacon of non-league football in a desolate North Birmingham for semi-professional teams.

Unlike the Black Country, which has a host of non-league football clubs including Stourbridge Town, Halesowen Town, Lye Town, and Sporting Khalsa – Birmingham is chronically underrepresented in the footballing pyramid.

However, chairman of Erdington United – Luke Caulfield – told Erdington Local everyone at the club is determined to put Erdington on the footballing map.

He said: “North Birmingham is crying out for a decent non-league team to get behind and we believe Erdington has got the community to create a thriving football club.

And we have recently found out that we have the history because there was an Erdington United which played from the 1950s until the 1980s.

We formed in 2014, then had a break but came back stronger last season and we have got our place in the Festival League for next season.”

The 30-year-old added: “I told our annual general meeting last week that in 15 years I want Erdington United to be playing semi-professional football on a Saturday, which would mean we would qualify for the FA Cup.”

There is a site on Spring Lane that would be perfect for a clubhouse and our long term plan has to be to have a stadium of our own, I know it will take years and years for this to be a reality but it is something we can all work towards.”

The club is currently finalising where they will be playing next season but one thing is for sure, after each game the team will all be heading to The Kingstanding Inn, Warren Farm Road.

Luke said: “We are really fostering a family feel for the club and the owners at the Kingstanding Inn, near where we played by last season, really looked after us, they put a spread of food on every week and it’s great to all get together after a game.”

Last season, using a squad of local players mostly under 25-years-old, the team qualified for a cup final but their day in the sun was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, due to an innovative and relentless social media strategy Erdington United used the lockdown to increase the profile of the club.

Two Facebook posts about limited edition specially designed kids, Support the NHS and Black Lives Matter, went viral leading to orders from across the country for the strips.

Luke said: “As soon as one batch of kits are delivered they are sold out, people liked our Support the NHS kits but the demand for Black Lives Matter strip has been insane.

We have had orders from Newcastle, Leeds, London, Rugeley and random other places. I spoke to our manager about a Black Lives Matter kit and he was up for it, we have a mixed squad of players and growing up in Erdington I’ve obviously got black friends and family members so we wanted to make a statement.

We asked GB Kits if they could make them for us and they cannot make them quick enough because of the demand. It has been a brilliant way of introducing people to Erdington United.”

Whereas Aston Villa, West Bromwich Albion and Birmingham City’s social media accounts all attracted racist and abusive comments under Black Lives Matter posts – Erdington United fans on Facebook were totally positive.

Luke, who went to Edmund Campion School, added: “We want to reflect Erdington as a club so obviously I was really proud how everyone reacted to our Black Lives Matter posts.”

To follow Erdington United on Twitter, visit www.twitter.com/ErdingtonU

To find Erdington United on Facebook, visit www.facebook.com/erdington.utd.7

NEWS: Erdington family embark on 5K sponsored walk to help save Twycross Zoo

Words & pics by Ed King

As zoos and safari parks across the country reopen from 15th June, when the Government eases the lockdown restrictions for selected businesses and tourist attractions, one Erdington family is busy fundraising to help save Twycross Zoo.

A special place,” for the Campion Garden residents, Ollie (9) and Rosie (5) Kinsella are embarking on a 5k sponsored walk around Pype Hayes Park – hoping to raise £500, dressed head to toe as their favourite animals, by Saturday 27th June.

To know more about Ollie and Rosie’s sponsored walk to help save Twycross Zoo, or to make a donation, visit www.totalgiving.co.uk/mypage/ollieandrosietosavethezoo

I went there for my first ever birthday,” tells Ollie – as he practices hiding like a Zebra, in his black and white camouflage costume, behind the sofa.

My favourite animals are penguins, because… they swim. And I like swimming under water. But there are no penguins at Twycross Zoo, so I’m a zebra… they’re my favourite because they’re stripy and they run fast. I can already run fast.”

Rosie has opted to be a flamingo, because she is an expert at standing on one leg and “flamingos are my favourite because they are pink.”

But the Erdington family of four are worried that the prolonged lockdown could put the UK’s zoos and safari parks at serious risk, seeing them as important places for children’s experience and education about the wider world.

Obviously, you can’t just go to South Africa and see the animals in the wild,” says Chantal Kinsella – Ollie and Rosie’s mum.

Some people are against zoos because the animals are not in their natural habitat. But you get to see things that you wouldn’t normally get to see every day – you get to see how they’re looked after, they do talk shows, they feed the sea lions… it’s a place of learning for the children.”

As thousands of businesses across the UK were forced to shut their doors from 23rd March, helping to stem the spread of COVID-19, zoos and safari parks have been closed to the public since early spring. But following guidelines from Public Health England, places that operate outdoors have begun to reopen as they are seen as lower risk.

I am very grateful to the zoo industry for their cooperation and forbearance,” explained Boris Johnson during the Government’s daily briefing on Wednesday 10th June, “and am happy to confirm that they too can reopen from Monday (15th June), provided visitor numbers are managed and safeguards put in place.

That includes keeping indoor areas such as reptile houses closed and facilitating social distancing.”

But as the light at the end of the economic tunnel begins to shine, there are still concerns for the welfare of such beloved places of interest.

People take it for granted that the zoos are always going to be there,” explains Craig Strawfrord, Ollie and Rosie’s dad – who once had a closer than usual encounter with a giraffe when he was stationed in Kenya, training for Afghanistan.

People might think just because they’re opening, they’re magically going to get the money back. But businesses can still be trading by slowly going under, because of the debt and interest rates. So, every little bit we can give them helps.”

Originally the zoos weren’t opening so they weren’t getting any income whatsoever,” adds Chantal, “they are opening now – but there’s still a shortfall because the zoos are not going to be able to have as many guests as they normally would have.”

Twycross Zoo first opened in 1963 and welcomes over half a million visitors to see the 500 animals in their care – including the ‘the largest collection of monkeys and apes in the Western World.’

The reported costs of running the wildlife sanctuary are over £500,000 per month.

But to Ollie and Rosie Kinsella it is a place of magic and learning, where they can experience wonders of the world a short distance from home. And if it helps to keep Twycross Zoo open for birthdays to come, walking 5km around Pype Hayes Park is a small price to pay.

They tell you facts,” explains Ollie – who is now trying to stand like a flamingo alongside his sister Rosie, “like how cheetahs can run fast… Did you know there’s a neon fish, that glows in the dark? In the sea. But they live very deep, so you’d need to dig a really big hole to see them.

I’d like to see a giraffe, like the one that walked over Daddy when he was in the war… But If I saw a tiger I’d run… or I’d fight back.

Ollie and Rosie will be making their 5k sponsored walk round Pype Hayes Park on Saturday 27th June – aiming to raise £500 to help save Twycross Zoo. For more information, or to make a donation, visit www.totalgiving.co.uk/mypage/ollieandrosietosavethezoo

To find out more about Twycross Zoo, visit www.twycrosszoo.org

NEWS: Hope and Healing at John Taylor, Erdington based hospice launches fundraising appeal to support grieving youngsters

Words by Diane Parkes / Pics courtesy of John Taylor Hospice Erdington

John Taylor Hospice in Erdington has launched the Hope and Healing Appeal – fundraising to support children across the West Midlands, who have lost loved ones during the coronavirus crisis.

The Hope and Healing Appeal aims to raise £10,000 to fund children’s counselling and art therapy groups at John Taylor Hospice – helping youngsters through one of the potentially toughest and loneliest times in their lives.

Donations to the Hope and Healing Appeal can be made online through a special Just Giving page, for more information visit www.justgiving.com/campaign/hopeandhealing

For those without access to the Internet, donations can also be made by texting the word ‘HEAL’ to 70331 for a £3 donation, or to 70191 for a £10 donation.

John Taylor Hospice is a charity, relying on public donations and fundraising to generate the £15,000 per day needed to run all its palliative and end of life care services. Founded in 1910, John Taylor Hospice is the oldest non-denominational hospice in the country – supporting over 600 individuals and families across the West Midlands.

The coronavirus pandemic has had a devastating impact on so many families and they will need support to heal from the grief this crisis has caused,” says Katie Mitchell, Head of Fundraising at John Taylor Hospice. “Your donation will mean so much to families and will support children to find the strength and confidence to open up, express their feelings and realise they are not alone.”

Fronting the fundraising appeal is Vicki Brennan, 50, from Kingstanding whose eight-year-old grandson Cruz took part in a pilot support group for children at John Taylor Hospice.

My beautiful daughter Siobhan was only 25 when she died of cervical cancer in June last year,” explained Vicki, who is now Cruz’s guardian. “When his mommy died he was so brave but he found it very difficult to talk about his feelings.

“The hospice nurses that cared for Siobhan told us about a new bereavement support group at John Taylor. Cruz looked forward to going every week as he felt reassured talking to other children who’d lost parents and grandparents and realised he wasn’t alone.

In art therapy groups he drew pictures of his mommy – such lovely, happy memories of the two of them shopping and playing together. After a few weeks of counselling and art therapy with the other children, we noticed that Cruz started to open up more, being able to express his emotions and ask more questions.

“The group has also given us strength as a family, the opportunity to grieve in our own ways and to reminisce about precious moments together that keep Siobhan’s beautiful memory alive.”

The support sessions that Cruz attended were a pilot for the Birmingham-based hospice – and now the Hope and Healing Appeal aims to raise funds so this vital service can be continued and offer a lifeline for more families like Vicki’s.

Vicki added: “For children especially, the loss of someone close can be overwhelming. But with the right support, children can find the strength to cope with feelings of sadness, guilt, insecurity and fear. If you are able to support this appeal we’d be incredibly grateful and your kind donation will help more children like Cruz to heal from their grief and have hope for happier times.”

John Taylor Hospice’s Hope and Healing Appeal

To make a donation to the Hope and Healing Appeal visit www.justgiving.com/campaign/hopeandhealing or text HEAL to 70331 to donate £3, or HEAL to 70191 to make a £10 donation.

To read more about John Taylor Hospice visit www.johntaylorhospice.org.uk