16-year-old Harvey, from Derbyshire, has thanked his bereavement counsellor for helping him live with the sudden death of his older brother.
Harvey took part in this year’s Countryfile Ramble for BBC Children in Need, joining TV host Matt Baker on a six-mile challenge around the Peak District. The expedition, aired in a special Countryfile feature on Sunday 1 November, including canoeing, two challenging rock climbs and two miles of orienteering, ending at the village of Gradbach.
Harvey took part in the Ramble in memory of his older brother Ed, who died when Harvey was just ten years old. In June 2015, on Father’s Day, 17-year-old Ed was killed in a house fire that had been started deliberately by people Ed didn’t even know.
Harvey explained that he felt robbed of his childhood when he heard of his brother’s death, he said:
“I can remember the day like it was yesterday. I was in the playroom and out came these words, your older brother’s been killed, been murdered. I can remember feeling a hot, burning pain within me.
“I’ve not had a childhood since then. I have had a life, but I’ve not had a childhood. That was taken away from me.”
Following Ed’s death, Harvey became angry and isolated, getting into scrapes at school and started to have panic attacks.
Harvey and his family found the support they needed through a local charity, Treetops Hospice Care.
Treetops, based in Risley, provides counselling and emotional support to children, young people, adults and families who are dealing with a life-limiting illness or bereavement.
Harvey has just finished five years of bereavement counselling with Treetops counsellor, Jules Kirk, he said:
“I had no real coping strategy. There was nothing for me to get out of that until I found Treetops.
“If it wasn’t for Jules, I wouldn’t be able to talk about this, I’d be extremely different. It’s hard to think where I’d be without her. Nothing I could say or do would ever be able to replicate what she’s done for me, ever. She’s just fantastic.
“The hardest thing about counselling for me was that it gets worse before it gets better. You don’t go and have one session and feel better. Counselling is about getting to a point where you can deal with it yourself and with your own tools, with your family around you. And I’m at that point now.
“Treetops is a very special place. They’re amazing. What they have done for our family is just unbelievable.”
Jules, who is also the Therapeutic Services Manager and Head of Children’s Services at Treetops, was with his family to greet Harvey at the end of his Countryfile Ramble.
She explained how ‘incredibly proud’ she is:
“Harvey is an amazing young man. It was an honour to be alongside him in his grief journey and to see how far he has come.
“I know how much completing this challenge meant to him, and what a wonderful way to end our work together. I am so proud of the work we do here at Treetops. It is a privilege to be there for the many clients we support during their darkest times.”
Harvey’s mum, Amanda, added:
“As a family, we’re so grateful for all the support Treetops has provided us and Harvey. We’re thrilled Harvey joined Matt on this Ramble, and we are all so proud of him and what he has achieved.”
Treetops currently receives a grant of £30,000 from BBC Children in Need over three years to provide counselling sessions for children and young people who have lost someone close to them. During the pandemic, the charity received an additional grant of £4,500 to provide care packages for bereaved children and young people.
Last year, Treetops Hospice Care provided over 1,100 bereavement sessions for children and families, over 3,000 adult bereavement counselling sessions, and over 600 support sessions for people dealing with a life-limiting condition.
Counselling is available to all users of Treetops Hospice Care services and people registered with a GP practice in Derby city or Southern Derbyshire.
Treetops is doing all it can to continue to support those in most need. The hospice welcomes donations to their Treetops COVID-19 Appeal to ensure the future of the hospice and its services.
Donations can be made at www.treetopshospice.org.uk/appeal