'We thought Christmas would never ever be the same again' - Forget Me Not Children's Hospice shares one-year-old Paddy's story
Last December, Paddy's mum and dad got the news no family ever wants to hear. That their baby, born with a serious heart condition, was unlikely to survive more than a few weeks.
Devastated and scared, the family went to stay at the Forget Me Not hospice to make the most of the little time they thought they'd have with Paddy.
The hospice became their sanctuary, somewhere they could spend time with Paddy, while he also got the care he needed.
Having a place to be together for what they thought would be Paddy’s final days was a real godsend for the family.
“I didn’t want to take him home,” said Paddy’s dad, Kurt.
“Because if he’d died at home, I wouldn’t want to live there again.”
Instead, they made Russell House their home. And as it was Christmas, the team at Forget Me Not helped make their time together really special.
“We just wanted to make as many memories with Paddy as possible,” Kurt said.
But of course, there was the ever-present anxiety of knowing they could lose him at any time.
“We thought, is he going to die on Christmas Day? Is he going to die on Boxing Day? We thought Christmas would never ever be the same again.”
But, against all the odds, Paddy kept fighting. Now, a year later, he and his family are about to enjoy his second Christmas, this time at home.
Kurt said: “He’s a real happy-chappy!”
But Paddy still needs round-the-clock care, he can’t eat solid food, he often doesn’t sleep well and is prone to infections.
Paddy comes to the hospice for regular day care which he loves and which gives Kurt, who looks after Paddy full-time, a chance to get some chores done and grab some well-earned rest. “Forget Me Not has been incredible, really supportive.
"Like when we’re down or we don’t know what’s wrong with him, we ring up and ask for their opinion, or we come in and they check him over.”
Sadly though, Paddy’s heart condition remains inoperable and the family don’t know what his future holds.
“The future is very uncertain. Some days are good, some days are bad. We take it one day at a time.”
Luen Thompson, chief executive at Forget Me Not said: “Every day a family like Paddy’s needs our help. And we’re here every day to support them. Even Christmas Day. But we can only do that with the help of the local community. That’s why we’re asking people to donate to our Christmas Appeal.
A donation to our Christmas Appeal, no matter how big or small, will help us continue to be here for children like Paddy, help us give exhausted parents like Kurt the support they need and give families the chance to do things together they wouldn’t otherwise get to enjoy.”
You can donate to Forget Me Not’s Christmas Appeal at www.forgetmenotchild.co.uk/christmas