The memory of a much-loved Worcestershire girl whose brave battle with cancer captured the hearts of the community will live on in a special festive celebration from Acorns Children’s Hospice.
Lily-Mai Bishop and her family were supported by Acorns throughout her four-year fight with a brain tumour.
The seven-year-old spent her final days at the charity’s hospice in Worcester, Acorns for the Three Counties – one of her ‘favourite places’.
Lily-Mai’s mum Liz will be among those remembering someone special as part of Acorns ‘Celebrate Your Star’ campaign, which invites friends and family members to honour their loved ones by dedicating a star on the charity’s virtual tree for a small donation.
And it’s Liz’s Christmas wish for people to join her and help the charity continue providing lifeline care and support for families like hers.
Liz said: “It’s important to me and my family that Lily’s memory is kept alive and supporting Acorns Celebrate Your Star campaign is one of the ways we remember Lily at Christmas. She loved coming Acorns, especially at Christmas, it was one of her favourite places.
“So many people rely on Acorns valuable support, not just the parents and the child, but the whole family. Acorns went above and beyond for my family – it was a home from home, where I knew Lily was safe and happy.
“Celebrating your stars is an easy way to support Acorns this Christmas and help families like mine get the support they need.”
Lily-Mai was born by emergency caesarean at 37 weeks in April 2011. She hadn’t grown as expected and her heartbeat had become dangerously slow. Although she was very tiny for her age, her doctors had no concerns.
But her mum had a nagging feeling something wasn’t right. She noticed Lily-Mai had facial dysmorphic features and the health visitor at her six-week check agreed.
Blood tests provided no clear answers and Lily-Mai was diagnosed with a syndrome without a name – a condition so rare it remains undiagnosed. The diagnosis came with the prognosis that Lily-Mai was life limited.
Her complex condition meant she was unable to walk unaided or talk. She had acute gastric problems and an unsafe swallow, leaving her with a serious risk of choking.
Proud mum Liz says her ‘little fighter’ survived three years of her life before being given the second devastating diagnosis of a brain tumour in July 2014.
Lily-Mai bravely fought her cancer for four years, enduring gruelling surgeries and treatment, facing each one with a smile. She passed away in June 2018.
Since Lily-Mai’s passing, her family have dedicated their time to ensure her memory lives on by raising money for Acorns to ensure its vital care and support is available for every child and family that needs it.
Liz said: “I can’t thank Acorns enough for all their love and support during that time and afterwards. It was hard, obviously, I’d lost my child. But I didn’t have to worry about having a cry because I had to be strong for everyone or trying to be strong because I had Acorns supporting me and my family.
“If we didn’t have Acorns as part of our lives at that time, circumstances would have been very different. They were literally our family, our support network, and still are to this day.”
Last year, Liz was among the hundreds of people to remember a loved one through Acorns inaugural Celebrate Your Star campaign. Now she is hoping others will join her by dedicating a star in honour of someone they love this Christmas.
For each dedication made, a physical star will be hung on a Christmas tree at one of Acorns three hospices and one will be posted to the person paying tribute – to display at home in time for Christmas.
Those honouring loved ones are also invited to join the charity’s first Celebrate Your Star event in Bournville, Birmingham, on Saturday 4 December, where family, friends and Acorns supporters will come together to celebrate every star being remembered.
There, those in attendance can take time to see the name of their star in Acorns special book of remembrance, hear from families and staff as they share their Acorns stories and join a Christmas sing-along and festive refreshments.
Ben Gilchrist, Acorns In Memory Manager, said: “Although most of us can look forward to this Christmas as a chance to make up for lost time, sadly many families who use Acorns don’t have that luxury. When your child has a life limiting condition, every moment together counts.
“That’s why choosing to celebrate your star is one of the greatest gifts you can give to Acorns this Christmas. Your generous donation will help create magical moments for children using Acorns services and cherished memories that will stay with their families forever.”
Acorns Children’s Hospice provides specialist palliative care for children and young people with life limiting and life threatening conditions, as well as support for their families.
It costs £27,000 every day to run Acorns services providing care for children and support for their families. The charity relies heavily on donations to fund the majority of its activities.
Anyone wishing to celebrate their star and support Acorns is encouraged to make their dedication before Thursday 16 December to ensure their stars are ready in time for the last Christmas post.
Acorns Celebrate Your Star in-person event is free to attend, but a suggested donation of £5 is welcomed. Details on how to book a place will be provided following each dedication.
For more information or to make a dedication, please click here.
For more information or for interview, photograph or filming opportunities, contact the PR and Communications team:
David Chamberlain: 01564 825020 / 07817 612422 / email@example.com
Nicki Robinson: 01564 825062 / 07814 302153 / firstname.lastname@example.org
Notes to editors:
Due to the sensitive nature of Acorns care services it refrains from using the words ‘terminal’ or ‘terminally ill’ in its press releases and public communications when describing the children who use Acorns and the conditions that they have. Instead, Acorns uses the words ‘life limited’, ‘life limiting’, or ‘life threatening’. Acorns kindly requests that you respect this in your communications when referring to Acorns Children’s Hospice. Acorns children have a lot of living to do. Thank you.
- It costs £27,000 every day to run Acorns services providing care for children and support for their families. The charity relies heavily on donations to fund the majority of its activities.
- To find out more about Acorns, please visit www.acorns.org.uk