Families raise thousands for those who helped in children’s final days

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Two Bexhill families whose children were cared for by Chestnut Tree have raised an incredible £17,500 for the charity.

In October, Josie Harrington and Chris Skiggs, and Lauren and Dave Nutt hosted a ball in memory of their children with 285 guests attending on the night.

Darcey. SUS-161116-120304001

Darcey. SUS-161116-120304001

Both families, who had been friends for years before having children, have praised the care they received last year from Chestnut Tree, describing the children’s hospice as ‘invaluable’.

Josie and Chris’s daughter Darcey was born in June 2015 and it became clear very quickly that she was unwell. The couple were told that she had brain damage, but nobody knew the extent of the damage or her prognosis.

When Darcey took a turn for the worse at the beginning of September 2015 the family were referred to Chestnut Tree House, where they spent three days before Darcey sadly passed away. She was just 12 weeks old.

“When we arrived at the house, I just cried with relief,” said Josie. “We had been in hospital for a week before then and were finding it really tough. We got to Chestnut Tree House and were greeted by a nurse and a plate of sandwiches. It was like all the stress and worry was gone and we could just spend time with our daughter and enjoy her last few days.

Jacob. SUS-161116-120316001

Jacob. SUS-161116-120316001

“We did so much during that time. The whole family stayed at the house – our parents, brothers and sisters. We went swimming, used the sensory room, I celebrated my birthday there with cards and a cake and the nurses helped us do footprints with Darcey.”

Lauren and Dave Nutt’s son Jacob passed away just three days after Darcey. Mum Lauren said: “We had been away for the weekend as a family but had been in constant contact with Chestnut Tree who suggested we head straight to them, which we did, but Jacob, who was just under 6 months old, passed away as we arrived.”

The family were referred to Chestnut Tree three months previously when Jacob was diagnosed with a progressive heart condition.

Both families chose to make use of Chestnut Tree House’s bereavement suite, staying at the house as a family until the funerals, giving them a chance to say goodbye in the ways that they wanted.

“It took all of the stress away. We didn’t have to think about any of the day to day things like cooking or cleaning, we could just grieve in our own time and way,” said Lauren.

“It gave us a chance to go through a terrible time with people who understood. And, in our case, to do it with close friends who knew exactly what we were going through.”

The ball was inspired by the families’ desire to do something in memory of both children, and also to raise vital funds for the hospice.

“It started off as a small idea and just grew and grew,” said Josie. “We liked the idea of a glamorous ball, of giving everyone the chance to really get dressed up and have a really great night, and it was better than we ever imagined. Everyone had a great night, and we smashed our fundraising target.”

Lauren said: “It costs £6,850 every day to provide all of Chestnut Tree’s care, and we really wanted to be able to pay for a day in memory of each of the children.

“We are so happy the money raised from the ball will pay for all of the care at Chestnut Tree on what would be have been Darcey and Jacob’s second birthdays, next year.”

Visit www.chestnut-tree- house.org.uk/donate to donate to Darcey and Jacob’s cause. To find out more about the charity, visit www.chestnut-tree-house.org.uk.

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