For kind, caring and bubbly Courtney, Bluebell Wood was the best place in the world. A place that made her feel like she could do anything, and be whoever she wanted to be. Her life-shortening condition meant she’d planned for the end from a very early age, and there was only ever one place she wanted to spend her final moments. From the joyous to the devastating, mum Amanda shares the journey of the young woman whose courage inspires her every single day:

“There were no signs that Courtney wasn’t perfectly healthy as a newborn,” said Amanda.

“But I began to notice little things around developmental milestones and then, just after her first birthday, she was diagnosed with a severe form of muscular dystrophy.”

Over the coming years, brave Courtney defied doctors’ expectations.

“We were always told she wouldn’t be able to walk, talk or even eat by herself as her condition progressed – but the only thing she couldn’t do throughout her life was walk. 

“She suffered with chest infections and had various operations so we spent a few Christmases in hospital, but she was generally quite stable.”

In 2008, when Courtney was 11-years-old, the family were told about a place that had just opened its doors and could offer the support they desperately needed – Bluebell Wood Children’s Hospice.

“We’d previously visited several respite care services which Courtney never took to. But when we walked into the bright and cheerful lounge at Bluebell Wood, she turned to me and said, ‘I’m staying here, mum’.”

Over the next 10 years, the family made brilliant friendships and memories they will always treasure.

“It’s a place where you can relax and where Courtney wouldn’t be stared at or judged. It gave her something she always craved; independence. The world can be a cruel place so that was very important.

“It’s also the support, not just for Courtney, but for me. I can’t explain to people how much it means. You really do become family. The appreciation and admiration I have for those who work there is unbelievable. And Courtney loved them, she really did.”

In 2018, the then 21-year-old Courtney was admitted to hospital.

“We had no idea how serious it was. Various tests came back negative and she was sat up in her hospital bed chatting and laughing and joking with the nurses.

“I went home that evening to get some sleep and, as I left, she said: ‘love you, mum’.

“It was the last thing she ever said to me.”

Amanda rushed back to the hospital in the early hours of the morning to find Courtney in a coma.

“She died in my arms that afternoon. Straight away we went to Bluebell Wood. We’d always been very open with her and she’d always said she wanted to go to Bluebell Wood at the end.”

The family spent the next week-and-a-half saying their goodbyes before the funeral Courtney had long since planned. 

“It was where we needed to be and it was so important to have that time. It gave me time to let her go.

“I got to have my little private moments with her; I held her and gave her a kiss and talked to her. Everything is done a way that is so loving and caring and they sort everything for you. You’re never pressurised or rushed.

“Since she died I’ve been taking part in Bluebell Wood’s bereavement support groups as well as counselling. The support has been such a massive help. It’s heart-breaking, but it’s so important.”

Courtney’s memory will always live on in the hearts of those whose lives she touched. It only seems right that she has the final word:

“For anyone thinking of donating to Bluebell Wood, I’d say do it because it’s the best place in the world,” she said in 2015.

“Bluebell Wood makes you feel like you can do anything; they never leave you out and say you’re too poorly to join in. They find a way to help you do it."

Help families like Courtney's make every moment count