This Christmas, local children’s hospice charity Shooting Star Children’s Hospices is launching their appeal asking you to help give families, like Axel’s, one last Christmas together.

Axel was just nine months old when he was diagnosed with a brain tumour. A week later, his parents Elin and Will were told he had tumours all over his brain and spine and given less than 10% chance of survival.

Axel

The next year and a half were spent in and out of hospitals as Axel underwent a range of treatments. His parents also tried to make as many happy memories as possible with Axel and his older sister Martha. But eventually, there was nothing left that the doctors could do.

Axel with mum Elin, dad Will and sister Martha

On the 23rd December 2017, Axel died peacefully, at home.

Axel’s parents Elin and Will explained:

“In the days leading up to Axel’s death we wanted him to be as relaxed as possible – not prodded, not pushed around and not in hospital where he didn’t have his family around him. It was important to us that he could stay at home, where we knew he was most comfortable, with reassuring and familiar sounds and smells, and Shooting Star Children’s Hospices helped us to do that – their Hospice at Home nurses visited to make sure he was comfortable and to give him pain relief. If we hadn’t had that help, Axel may have spent his last few days somewhere unfamiliar.”

Axel and Martha

The charity’s Hospice at Home team was able to support Elin and Will’s wishes for Axel to be at home as he neared the end of his life.

Donations to Shooting Star Children’s Hospices ensure that when the time comes to say goodbye, families have the choice of a place of death. For Elin and Will, they wanted to be at home. Shooting Star Children’s Hospices were able to give them one last Christmas together.

Elin and Axel on holiday

Elin said:

“In the week leading up to Christmas, when it was clear that Axel was deteriorating, we made the difficult decision to stop Axel’s treatment. That was a really hard day because it meant accepting that he was going to die. Shooting Star Children’s Hospices gave us a cold blanket so that when the time came to say goodbye, we could do it in our own time. Having a cold blanket meant that when Axel died he wasn’t ripped away from us. We could sit with him, hold his hand, stroke his hair and talk to him. Will carried him out of our house, four days later, when it felt right to us. It also meant that Martha, Axel’s sister, could have a Christmas and we could be with both of our children.

For Elin and Will, and the many other families who have been through the unimaginable, Christmas will never be the same again, but by supporting Shooting Star Children’s Hospices they can continue to be there for families long after a child has died.

With dad Will Christmas tree shopping, just a couple of weeks before Axel died

Elin and Will continued:

“Even the lead-up to Christmas, the whole of December, is hard. But Shooting Star Children’s Hospices have continued to be there for us with counselling and bereaved family days.

“Nothing about what we’ve been through is lucky, but we are extremely grateful that Shooting Star Children’s Hospices was there for us when we needed them. We had just three Christmases with our incredible little boy. Our last Christmas was a Christmas unlike anything you could ever imagine, but Axel was at home with us and that meant everything.”

Meeting Father Christmas just a couple of weeks before Axel died

It costs Shooting Star Children’s Hospices £1.2 million each year to run their Hospice at Home service. Just 10% of the charity’s income comes from government funding, so they rely heavily on fundraising to ensure the vital service can continue to run, supporting 700 families across Surrey and 15 boroughs of London.

Your support can make the world of difference to families facing the unimaginable this Christmas. Find out how you can support at shootingstar.org.uk/christmas and can donate today at www.shootingstar.org.uk/christmas-donate-form/