The Star is supporting a Yorkshire-wide appeal to help children and young people with life-shortening conditions across the region. Katie Baldwin reports on how support after bereavement made a huge difference to one family.
When baby Roman Morley lost his battle for life after months of fighting, his mum knew there was only one place she wanted to be.
Amanda Steele, her beloved little boy and the rest of his family were given a haven at Bluebell Wood Children’s Hospice.
The hospice in Sheffield allowed the family three weeks with Roman before they had to say their final goodbyes.
“It was just precious,” she said. “A completely precious time.”
Amanda and her family are backing the Yorkshire Children’s Hospices Appeal, led by the Yorkshire Post and supported by our sister titles across the region.
We are aiming to raise £30,000 for the three children’s hospices in Yorkshire and enable them to support more families like Roman’s as they face their toughest times.
The tot had already defied doctors numerous times after his mum’s waters broke when she was just 19 weeks pregnant in November 2013.
Medics warned her she would have a stillbirth, but little Roman hung on and was born at the Jessop Wing of the Royal Hallamshire Hospital in Sheffield 25 weeks into Amanda’s pregnancy, weighing just 1lb 8oz.
“It was an hour-and-a-half before I found out whether he was alive,” she said.
“It was like a miracle.”
However Amanda and her partner Steven Morley were told he may not survive the night, a warning they heard many times afterwards .
Though he had chronic lung disease and needed high levels of oxygen to breathe, Roman fought on, sustained by Amanda’s breast milk.
In May 2014 he was moved to Sheffield Children’s Hospital and by July had improved enough to go home.
But the following month his health deteriorated and he was readmitted to hospital.
Sadly Roman lost his battle in October 2014.
“He wasn’t in pain any more, but it was still a massive shock,” said Amanda, from Barnsley.
She knew about Bluebell Wood through Kathy Green, the chaplain at the hospital, who drove Amanda and Roman there.
Amanda, 32, didn’t want to be apart from Roman and the hospice’s facilities allowed him to stay there with her, while she and her children were looked after.
“It was absolutely everything,” she said.
“We stayed in the end of life suite until Roman’s funeral and our family could visit whenever they wanted,” she said.
“They do everything for you. All I had to think about was me and Roman. It was a lifesaver.”
The family had time to create special memories, including making casts of Roman’s hand and foot prints.
Since his death, Roman’s family have visited Bluebell Wood at least once a week.
Amanda has sessions with head counsellor Angie Beasley and attends the bereavement group for parents.
Roman’s brothers and sisters, including Amanda’s two step children, attend the sibling group where they can meet other children and have help to deal with their emotions.
They also taken part in music and drama therapy and the family attend the annual Remembering Day event.
“The care we receive here is amazing,” Amanda said.
“All of us have received counselling, my children come to the sibling group and have enjoyed day trips out and I go to the parent group.
“Bluebell Wood helped me get my life back. I was in such a dark place before that. I just didn’t want to be alive.
“The word hospice is often just associated with death and unhappiness, which isn’t the case. It’s full of love.
“Whenever I arrive at the hospice, I get such a calm feeling.
“Bluebell Wood has helped each of us in different ways; I receive fantastic emotional support and my children get to enjoy their childhood. For them, it’s a safe and happy place.
“I wouldn’t be the person I am today without the hospice and especially the staff. They gave me the time with my boy that you wouldn’t get anywhere else.”
Bluebell Wood will jointly benefit from the Yorkshire Children’s Hospices Appeal, along with Martin House in Boston Spa and Forget Me Not in Huddersfield.
The three hospices have teamed up for the appeal, which has been taken on as the charity of the year by Johnston Press publications in Yorkshire.
Every year the hospices need to raise a total of £13.3m because only 10 per cent of their funding comes from the Government.
We are asking readers to do their bit to help provide these vital services, whether that’s by donating even a few pounds, or holding a fundraising event.
• Donate to the appeal online. Or, send a cheque, made payable to Yorkshire Children’s Hospices’ Appeal, to: Kayla Lindsey, Yorkshire Post, No 1 Leeds, 26 Whitehall Road, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS12 1BE. You can also download our donations pack, containing all you need to know to help the appeal.
• Are you supporting the appeal? Tell us about it via social media using #ychappeal