A mum whose son died in her arms at Bluebell Wood Children’s Hospice has opened up about the heartbreaking day she had to say her final goodbye.

Tom Scotford, 21, peacefully drew his last breath in Bluebell Wood’s Forget Me Not suite in 2017 to Eva Cassidy’s Field’s of Gold, surrounded by his loving family.

Tom, who was diagnosed with DiGeorge Syndrome, a heart defect and brain damage, was one of the first children to use the hospice for respite care when it opened in 2008.

Although his condition was life-threatening, the boy with a “beautiful smile” spent many a happy time at his home away from home over the years.

Now mum Gillian Scotford has told their story in-depth as she prepares to speak at Bluebell Wood’s much-anticipated Masquerade Ball in September. 

 “Tom needed constant care for all his needs 24/7 and we knew any moment he could die so being able to come here and have someone say ‘we’ll take over’ was amazing,” said Gillian, from Dronfield.

“The hospice was purpose-built for children like Tom. I remember him in the music room, flapping his hands in an uncoordinated way, while the nurses put a piano in front of him and helped him hit those notes. He was really laughing.

“There is so much sadness at Bluebell Wood but the staff make sure every day is surrounded with happiness, and moments to treasure.”

In February 2017, soon after Tom turned 21, he stopped breathing after having a serious fit. He was rushed to intensive care.

Gillian said: “It was the day we’d been dreading. I knew he’d had a major bleed on his brain and probably wouldn’t recover. He’d always had this beautiful smile, and I thought, if he couldn’t smile, it would be kinder to let him go.”

The family made the impossible decision to turn off Tom’s life support, but after he battled on a little longer, they decided to take him to Bluebell Wood to say goodbye.

“After we arrived I got in bed beside Tom, and his chest was going up and down,” she said.

“My sister put on the song Fields of Gold and just before the end of the song his chest went up and down, and never went up again. He’d slipped away so peacefully.

“I came out and lay on the sofa overlooking the garden, and I saw a rainbow going down to the garden, and I just thought that rainbow was coming to get Tom.”

Gillian lived and breathed Bluebell Wood for many years, and her fundraising efforts and support, which began before the hospice opened, continue to this day.

“For Tom to live with all the difficulties that he had for 21 years, he wouldn’t have done it without Bluebell Wood,” she said.

“We were so well looked after - it made us able to cope. Having Bluebell Wood was perfect for us, but not everyone’s lucky enough to get that.”

Gillian will be sharing her story at Bluebell Wood’s Masquerade Ball at the Sheffield City Hall Ballroom on September 21st and tickets can be bought here https://www.bluebellwood.org/Event/masquerade-ball-2019 or by calling 01909 517365.

Beth Cole, Events Fundraiser at Bluebell Wood, said: “Tom and Gillian’s incredibly moving story highlights just how important Bluebell Wood is to our families.

“I’d like to thank Gillian for sharing their story and for all the brilliant fundraising and support she has given us over the years.

“It costs more than £4 million a year to run Bluebell Wood and only 10 per cent of this comes from central government, so every penny raised for us is vital.”