Sunday, 14 January 2018

The work our charity does finds us supporting families that have lost a baby or a child. This is what we set out to do and we couldn't feel prouder of the work we have been able to do and how quickly the charity has grown.

It still amazes us that such a tiny little boy could have such an impact on the world. 
We knew Charlie was special, but we are biased, but now thousands of people can see just how special he truly was. 

Often I sit back and think to myself how different life would have been if Charlie was with us, and in an ideal world he would be, but I now think of all those families that have been able to access the help and support they need and deserve. 
Only this afternoon, whilst I was with Charlies cousins, we were chatting about how Charlie and his cousin Mila (3)would have been great mates causing havoc where ever they went. Although Mila never got to meet Charlie she often talks about him and asks about him. The innocence of childhood is wonderful, life seems so much easier when you are 3.

2017 was an absolutely amazing year for the charity and we are now seeing the hard work we have been doing to make changes to the face of bereavement support starting to pay off. 
We never anticipated that it would be easy or that it would happen quickly but we have all been totally amazed at the level of support we have received, not only from professionals but from businesses, local communities, media and bereaved families.

It can become very emotional for us when we are with other families that are trying to keep going after losing their child but we know how important it is that we are there for them.  Once we get home or have a moment to spare it can then really hit you and it can bring all your memories flooding back. 
I know we wouldn't have it any other way though as we could not sit back and think of families struggling through alone like Charlies mummy had to. We feel very privileged that the families allow us into their lives and share their beautiful baby or child with us. 

Over the last few months we have began to get some of the families that we have helped getting in touch with us to let us know that they are expecting their 'rainbow' baby. 
We love it when we get news like this but we also understand how difficult the next few months will be for them and the emotions it will bring right back up. 
Some parents even tell us that they feel guilty for being pregnant, they feel that it will look to others that they have forgotten their other child or have 'got over it'. This can be a huge hurdle for them to get over and can cause lots of emotional confusion.
Everyone that has told us they are expecting always go on to say that it will be the longest pregnancy ever. We know that the professionals offer much closer screening to families and often they can ask for scans on a weekly basis if that is what the family needs to help them cope through the pregnancy.

It is lovely when we then receive the message or the picture of their new addition. 

It gives you hope for the future and hope for the families.

In 2018 we would really like to start up a 'Hope Board' that will go up in our office. It will be filled with the rainbow babies pictures and we want it to give other families some comfort and hope for their future.

This is where you can help us, if you have had a rainbow baby and would like them to go up on our Hope Board please get in touch with us via our website, email or social media. (www.Charlies-Angel-Centre.org.uk, charliesangelcentre@hotmail.com, 
@CharliesAngelCentre on FB & @charlie29122012 on Twitter).

Losing a baby or child is the hardest thing any parent and family will ever have to do. The road ahead for those families is full of ups and downs and we know how difficult it will be. 

Everyone needs a bit of hope in their lives and bereaved parents even more so.

Sunday, 7 January 2018

January can be a difficult time for everyone, returning to work after having had time off with family over the festive season, short of money through overspending, and those 'back to work' blues.
Imagine then what it must feel like for a bereaved family. 
Whilst others are out celebrating and welcoming the New Year the bereaved family are coming to terms with another year without their baby or child. New Years Eve is just another reminder for them of how long they have been missing a loved one. Often they will go out with friends and try to join in but it can often end up with them crying in a corner feeling very alone.
Often families explain that they can feel guilty that they have gone out or are celebrating and feel that others may judge them for going out or think that they must be 'over it'. Whereas in reality they will never be over it and sometimes going out is a way of trying to block out the emotions and feelings.
Once New Year is over then it moves onto people returning to the everyday routine of work. 
The bereaved are left feeling even more alone. 
Some may still be off work and are suddenly left on their own again which can cause anxiety and isolation. Family members that had been popping by regularly over the festive season are now unable to do so. Partners who have been there for you are suddenly having to go to work. 
You may have also returned to work and that feeling of going back is unbearable, everyone says that New Year is out with the old and in with the new. You fear that workmates will be thinking that you have moved forward and will try and hide your true feelings because you don't want to feel like a burden. 
New Year to me now has a totally different meaning since we lost Charlie, and it has changed how I approach people after the celebrations have finished. I now understand that many people will be feeling similar to me but again like me are trying to cover their feelings up. People don't always disclose a loss to colleagues so if you see a workmate who seems quieter or more isolated spare a moment to say hello. Just saying hello shows them that you care and can sometimes give them the courage to open up.
One of my New Year Resolutions was to try and spend more time chatting with friends, colleagues and families we work with. Communication is the main way to achieve things and can make a huge difference to someones life.
In an ideal world we would all be able to be nicer and more understanding of each other and realise that lots of people are struggling through things we know nothing about, but life is busy and life is hard. 
If nothing else we can all share a smile with others as we go about our daily life. That smile might be the only friendly face someone has seen that day and could mean such a lot.

Sunday, 31 December 2017

Friday 29th December 2017 was Charlie's 5th birthday.

This is always going to be a date in the year that is extra hard for his mummy and the family. Naively we thought that as each year passed it would get easier to cope with the day.

We were very wrong.

I have found this year strange because I cannot get a picture out of my mind of what a 5 year old little Charlie would look like. 5 seems an age when children are starting to explore the world more and can interact with everyone so much more.
This Christmas would have been one when he would have been loving ripping open his presents and getting excited about Santa visiting. 
Carrie made a lovely photo for her special boys birthday and she wrote some beautiful words to go with it.



"I am forever changed for having known the gift that was you. I miss who you were, who you would have become and who I was going to be. But I am a better person for having known you, if only for a moment. Happy 5th Birthday Charlie 🦋 Have A Wonderful Day My Angel, I miss you so much and I love you even more 💙Till we meet again.
Mummy... XxX"


Every year we always make sure that we do something that we think Charlie would have loved joining in with. This year his mummy decided to go to Pizza Hut. 

Since Charlie's birth two of his uncles now live away from Leeds and unfortunately were not able to come up for the 29th but they did make sure that they did something on the day to remember and honour him. 
There were 13 of us all together and it always makes it feel special that we come together for this one date of the year.

Everyone had a lovely meal and we were kept entertained by Charlie's nieces.






        



Following the meal we all went over to a small bridge over the river where we all released a balloon. The children were very excited to see how far their balloon would go.




As the balloons followed each other down the river a little voice said "Bye Charlie, Love you". It was Charlie's youngest niece 3 year old Mila. Such beautiful words from such a little but beautiful girl.

Carrie then told us that she had made us all a gift to take away with us. When she gave them all out we were just amazed, they were absolutely beautiful and each one was individualised.

Thank you so much Carrie for such wonderful gifts in memory of your special little boy.

We know you were looking down on us Charlie and helping us to stay strong. We Love you so much and miss you every day.

Sunday, 24 December 2017

Christmas Eve is here again, where has the last 12 months gone. 

December is always a difficult month for us with Charlies Birthday falling on the 29th and seeing all the other people rushing around getting ready for the 25th full of excitement, when we would give anything to be able to be buying gifts for Charlie.

This time of year is really a time for family to come together and this is even more important to us as now is when we need each other for support and to help us all get through it as well as we can. 

I think running the charity has been a real help to us as it enables us to get engrossed in the everyday running and event organisations which then doesn’t allow a lot of time to be able to sit back and think. It has also helped us because we can see how much we are now helping other families going through the same experience we did. The last 12 months has also seen us make a lot of headway in getting the NHS and other organisations to sit up and take notice. 

2018 is looking as if it is going to be another amazing year for us and our ultimate aim of opening our bereavement centre is getting closer. 

This time of year is also when the charity has to look at our accounts and we thought we had pretty much finished our fundraising efforts for 2017. 

However we were wrong.

This week we received a message through our face book page asking if someone was available as they would like to pop round with a donation. Of course we said yes and waited excitedly to see who it was as we didn’t recognise the name. 
Well when they arrived we were blown away. The donation was from a local car dealer who we had been into earlier in the year to see if they could help with an auction prize. As they were a new company they were unable to help but seemed genuinely interested in the work we were doing. Clive, one of our trustees, had decided to go into their site as the name was Angel Cars and he felt that the connection to our charity name was a great coincidence. 
The company decided that they did want to support us and unbeknown to us they had started an initiative where for every car sold through November to December they would donate £100 to us.

When they presented Clive with the cheque we were absolutely amazed at the figure of £500 on it.  

What an amazing family and business to decide to help us in such a great way, the money they have donated will enable us to continue to offer the free help and support we currently do to bereaved parents and families. 
At a time of year where everyone is spending their money on gifts and food for them to give such a large amount is phenomenal. It really does warm your heart and restores your faith in mankind. 


We have also received donations over the last couple of days from another charity and from families we have supported. In a world where we only tend to hear the bad news this week has really shown us that there are some awesome people out there that want to help others. 

We hope you all are able to share your Christmas with your loved ones and can think about and honour your little angels in whatever way is best for you.

Our charity is always here to help and even over the Christmas holidays there will always be someone able to respond if you need to contact us. 

Monday, 18 December 2017

Our 2nd Christmas Memorial Service took place on Thursday. 

It was a wonderful evening and we were so pleased to see a lot of familiar faces as well as new families we have been supporting. 

Although we were all together because of the most awful event that could ever happen to a family, the death of a baby or child, it was a lovely way for us all to come together and honour them.

The evening began for us at 6pm as we all got to St Cross early to set up for the event. We always have a few nerves at this point and feel like we have bound to forgotten something.

With all hands on deck we quickly got everything organised, the programme for the evening along with a small gift for everyone was placed on the pews, the raffle prizes were all on display, the Christmas tree and baubles were all ready, the craft table for any children attending was ready and the wonderful Nicola & Abigail from Beaverbrooks had all the refreshments ready.


The service began at 7pm and we were very lucky to have local singer, Tree, come along to perform some songs. She chose some lovely ones that seemed to fit in really well with the theme of the event.






The vicar, Andy Myers, then began the evening by saying a few words before he started to read out the names of all the babies and children. As the names were read out family and friends were asked to come out to light a candle in their memory. Whilst the names were being read out Tree also played some music.



There were so many people there, seeing all the candles flickering was really moving. We were also very thankful for the beautiful cake given to us for all the families to share.


Once all the candles had been lit the vicar said thank you to everyone who came and let us join them in honouring their children. 
It was then my turn to get up to thank all for coming and for supporting each other. It was nice to be able to share with them how the charity has been doing throughout 2017 and how thanks to them and their support we are able to help so many more families.
I then invited Esther Clamp , a bereaved mother, who we have been supporting to come up. Prior to the evening Esther had contacted me to say that she had been making cards and selling them to raise money for us in honour of her little girl Leyna who they lost earlier on in the year.  Esther wanted to make sure that through her loss she could go on to do something positive for other families. So far she has raised £215, Esther then added that her boss has agreed to credit match anything that Esther raises in the future and from the current cards. This definitely makes you see that there are some amazing people out there that want to help people.

We then drew the raffle and everyone seemed to like their prizes.

Our Christmas tree looked absolutely amazing at the end of the evening with all the baubles on. 



We have already been asked by people who attended if we are definitely doing another service next year, even the vicar commented and said he would love it to be an annual event.
Looks like our Christmas Memorial Service is now an annual event. 

What a brilliant way to all get together and remember and honour all our angels.

Sunday, 10 December 2017

This Thursday, 14th December, is our second Christmas Memorial Service at St Cross church in Middleton, Leeds.


Last years service was a wonderful evening and provided somewhere for so many families to come together to honour and remember their angels. 

This year we are hoping that it will be just as successful or even more. 
Over the last 12 months we have met so many more families and have been able to support them in their loss. 

Our charity always aims to help and support bereaved families but we have found that the families we have helped go on to become friends rather than acquaintances. Coming together at this very difficult time of year for bereaved families is such a special way of everyone being able to help each other. There is no one there that will not understand the struggles that people are going through.

We have all been busy making sure that everything is ready, from the baubles for the tree, the special gifts for everyone who attends and the prizes for the raffle.




We are very fortunate to work with and alongside some amazing people who give so much of their time and energy to our charity and without them we would definitely find it harder to do everything we currently do. There have been some wonderful donations made to us for raffle prizes, Beaverbrooks Jewellers staff have agreed to come along to provide refreshments for everyone and we are delighted and excited that a local singer has agreed to come along to sing for us. 



We hope that you are all able to come along to the service. There will be many of us there from the charity if you need to talk to anyone about support you may need or just to have a chat to.

Whilst the evening is not predominantly to raise funds for us, any  money raised from the event will enable us to continue to provide the free support and help we currently give.

Christmas can be a very difficult and lonely time for families and if we can help make the holidays a little less traumatic for them we will do.

Charlie Arthur Curtis has already made a huge impact on the face of bereavement support and we couldn't be any prouder of our special little boy.

Sunday, 3 December 2017

December is always a difficult month for our family since we lost Charlie. 

Back in December 2012 we were all still busy getting ready for the festive season and were trying to stay strong for Carrie. 
None of us expected that we would meet Charlie in December, his due date had been 22nd February, so we thought we would still have several more weeks with him safe inside his mummy. We all shared our Christmas day with each other and even when Carrie had some stomach twinges we didn't think that it was Charlie getting ready to join us.

Charlie however had very different ideas.

Throughout Carrie's pregnancy, when we went along to her regular scans, Charlie always showed us how strong and courageous he was. The first thing we would always see was his strong little heart pumping away, this always gave us that slight glimmer of hope. Questions would whirl around your head, how could this little baby with such a strong heart beat be so poorly.
None of us were under the illusion that things were going to end positively but it definitely made it harder when you could see him moving slightly and grinding his gums. All of us hoped that Charlie would be the baby to beat the odds of this awful condition.

Christmas is always portrayed as a happy time when everyone gets together and shares happy times, even putting aside any bad feelings or arguments.

We know that this is not always the case. 

Whilst we were in the hospital there were families there all celebrating and excitedly sharing their news,but we also know that there were also several families there that were going through the same as us. 
They were suddenly faced with having to say hello and goodbye to their baby, they were in a place where they could hear other people welcome their babies into the world. Some families, including us, had to remain on the delivery suite hearing babies crying as they took their first breaths. 
We know that this was not what the staff would have wanted for us but the specialist bereavement suite was full. This in itself was heartbreaking as this meant there were several other families that were trying to come to terms with the death of their child.The only way we could be moved round to the Rosemary Suite was when a family made that heartbreaking decision to go home, leaving their baby behind.

Since our own experiences we have come to realise just how many families are affected by baby/child loss across the country. If you have never been touched by a loss you wouldn't even begin to imagine how many families are dealing with this on a daily basis.

All of those families are currently trying to keep functioning through the Christmas and New Year whilst never forgetting their precious 'angels'.

If you are part of a family that has lost their baby/child please try and be gentle on yourselves. Don't worry if you don't feel like celebrating or getting together with friends and family. If you are not able to send out cards, that is ok, you already have enough going around your brain without the extra worry of joining in with the tradition of card sending. Give yourself the space to grieve without worrying.

If you know a family that are trying to keep putting one foot in front of the other over this festive season please don't put extra pressure on them by expecting them to want to join in. 
If you don't get a card or present it isn't personal, they are probably not even able to think about going out to the shops.
If they do want to come along to any family events be ready to share with them the memories of their child. They will probably want to share with you but may feel worried to do so.

Everyone feels awkward when it comes to talking about death and the death of a baby even more so.

It is important to acknowledge and respect what they feel able to join in with, they are still the same person they were before but they now carry their grief with them. 
The person doesn't change but their emotions, experiences and outlook on life almost certainly will. Many families say that they now see what is actually important in their lives and the things that used to worry them no longer do.

Charlies-Angel-Centre.org.uk