Emma was a determined young lady who loved dancing, clothes, Sheffield Wednesday and much more. She was diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2004 and received Hospice at Home support from Bluebell Wood before she passed away at the age of 13.
Her parents, Jane and Steve, have since fundraised thousands for Bluebell Wood in Emma’s memory and Jane became a Care Team Support Worker at the hospice in 2010.
“Bluebell Wood made a huge difference to us at the hardest of times. Volunteering, working and fundraising for Bluebell Wood is just our way of giving something back for the amazing support we received,” said Jane.
In the later stages of her illness, Emma went blind and was unable to walk. “She was always smiling; so determined and brave. She loved school and carried on going throughout,” said Jane.
The family, including Emma’s younger sibling Katie, first heard about Bluebell Wood two years into her illness through Emma’s consultant. She had long procedures at hospital – 15 in total – and remained her upbeat, caring self through all of this.
Bluebell Wood’s Care Team members cared for Emma at home, providing overnight support once a week at first. When Emma’s condition progressed, nurses provided 40 hours of support a week.
“Having the Bluebell Wood nurses at home was invaluable. It was comforting to Emma, and us, because they got to know her so well in her own home; she recognised their voices when she had lost her sight and that was really important.
“They could also explain what was happening throughout, which helped us a lot,” said Steve.
Emma passed away at home, after a short time away near the coast. Bluebell Wood nurses were there and this made a huge difference to the family. Emma then stayed in Bluebell Wood’s Forget Me Not end of life suite, providing space and time for Emma’s beloved friends and family to say their goodbyes. The family were the first to use the suite.
Jane said: “She had all the teddies and photos from her room around her, and her favourite yellow bedding. She loved Westlife, so we played that in the room constantly. Emma looked like she wasn’t poorly any more, all the pain had gone.”
Bluebell Wood helped with Emma’s funeral service. Katie also received sibling support, with Care Team members taking her out for days so she could be herself and start to make sense of what had happened.
“Even though it was a sad time for us, we had happy memories of Emma being at Bluebell Wood. It was the worst time of our lives but it could have been a lot worse without Bluebell Wood,” said Steve.
The family has since kept in touch with us. Steve volunteers at the hospice, Jane works in the Care Team and Katie is progressing a career in support work after volunteering time at Bluebell Wood. They also organise numerous fundraising events.
“Emma wasn’t fazed by anything and she was so well supported by the Bluebell Wood team. She won a ‘super kid’ award for her bravery and we’re very proud,” said Jane.
To find out more about how to support Bluebell Wood Children’s Hospice, visit www.bluebellwood.org