In 2012, on the 10th October I gave birth to my first child, a beautiful baby girl called Ella. It was love at first sight and I couldn’t have been happier, our little family had grown by one perfect bundle of joy. But unfortunately at just 3 months old it was apparent things were not right, Ella had her first seizure and we began a whirlwind journey. Those first few months all merged into one and Ella was diagnosed with a severe form of Miller-Dieker syndrome and we were told it was a 1 in 17 million anomaly, we had won the lottery no-one wants to win. Ella suffered multiple seizures a day, was unable to eat, sit, talk or even hold her head.
Things were not looking so good for Ella and it was suggested we visit Acorns in Worcester for palliative care. I had never even heard of Acorns or the work they did but we were blown away by the amazing facilities. It was like a shining light in a very dark time in our lives. Thankfully Ella had other plans and we were able to use Acorns for respite, playgroup and swimming which was a firm family favourite! We loved visiting Acorns, the staff were amazing, they became life long friends and Ella was truly happy whenever we were there.
Sadly aged just 2 and 3 months, Ella passed away. My entire world felt like it had ended and this is when I truly understood just how special Acorns really was. I will never be able to explain how much they kept me going and how important their hospices and staff are. We were able to take Ella straight up to Acorns where she stayed until her funeral. I had no idea what to do but they supported me and my family and helped us make arrangements, allowing us to stay in the flat there and making us feel at ease. Even now we continue to visit the memorial garden and to me walking through the front door feels like being back home.
Every year I try to mark Ella’s anniversary in an unusual way and this year I hadn’t really done anything particularly big (in comparison to other years when I got a tattoo and bought a house!) and I was a little disappointed with myself. Then on the anniversary of her funeral, a letter arrived through the post which was dated her anniversary. They were asking for applications to become a family ambassador for a trek to the Great Wall of China in October which was also over Ella’s Birthday and on her Birthday, we would be climbing the heavenly ladder. It was as if something was telling me this was what I had to do this year. I was instantly excited about it and without much thought and without even telling my husband I applied!
When I was asked to come in to discuss my application further I was ecstatic but nervous, I so desperately wanted this opportunity. I cannot praise Acorns enough and I wanted to tell as many people my story and to raise as much money as possible. I thought it best to tell my husband Andy at this point to make sure he was OK having our 18-month-old Katie by himself for 9 days which thankfully he was! I spent lunchbreaks and evening researching Beijing, trekking conditions, walking boots and I hadn’t even been offered a place yet.
When I received the call I was shocked, I had convinced myself that someone else would have got it over me. It took a few minutes to sink in and then I cried with happiness as cliché as it sounds it really was a dream come true for me. I feel like I am doing something to make Ella proud and at the same time I get to tell people about the truly remarkable things Acorns does.
Its going to be a tough challenge, but these children go through even tougher situations on a daily basis and it really is the least I can do to raise awareness of Acorns and their amazing families.
I had better get my boots on!
Follow our Trekkers journey as they build up to the Acorns China Trek on 5th – 13th October this year!