Tracey’s sister Claire was the inspiration behind Claire House, here Tracey explains how she is truly thankful that Claire House is there to support the whole family.
Claire and I were just like any other siblings, loving one minute arguing the next. With only two years between us we were always together.
We were a happy family, my dad a builder and my mum a nurse. We enjoyed holidays to Butlins and meeting up with family friends. Then on one of those holidays Claire began to complain of terrible headaches. We could never have imagined that this would be the beginning of something that would change all our lives forever.
Claire was diagnosed with a malignant tumour behind her nose, this was devastating news for our family. She began treatment and our lives became very different.
By then my younger siblings Jenny and Kevin had been born but our family was often torn apart as my parents stayed with Claire in hospital and tried to keep things as normal as they could for us at home.
However, I missed my sister, I missed my mum and dad and I missed our family time. At school I struggled to stay focussed and was often caught daydreaming out of the window. It was difficult to visit Claire in hospital and I remember often wanting to stay longer but it just wasn’t possible.
Sadly, Claire’s treatment didn’t work, and she died in hospital at just 9 years old, our whole family was devastated. I remember feeling very angry for a long time, life can be so cruel.
My parents and some of their friends decided that there should be a place where families can be together during tough times and the idea of Claire House Children’s Hospice began.
We fundraised tirelessly for years, our house always full of Claire House merchandise, sweatshirts and mugs. The support we received was overwhelming as everyone seemed to be raising money for Claire House.
Then finally in 1998, ten years after Claire’s diagnosis, and after many years of planning, committee meetings, fundraising events and location hunting, Claire House Children’s Hospice opened its doors, complete with a bronze plaque designed by myself, Jenny and Kevin.
I felt relief, I get great comfort knowing that families like ours have a choice and that Claire House will be there for them.
With the support of the hospice, brothers and sisters can spend time with their poorly sibling, having fun and making memories. They can splash together in the hydrotherapy pool, watch movies in the quiet lounge or get messy in the art room, something which just wasn’t possible for our family.
The team at Claire House are there for the brothers and sisters of the children the hospice cares for and can help them understand their feelings and talk to them about their emotions.
When Claire House Children’s Hospice opened in December 1998 the hospice was looking after 10 families. Now thanks to your support Claire House can be there for over 400 children and their families.
In 2019, our family and friends set ourselves the goal of raising £40,000 in Claire’s memory during her 40th birthday year.
Claire’s 40 for 40 appeal was set up to fund a year-long music and care package, to enable local children and families to enjoy music; both in the hospice and out in the community.
We were so please to reach our goal and it was such a fitting tribute to Claire on her 40th Birthday.
This year, I’m taking part in the Liverpool Cathedral Abseil on Claire’s 42nd birthday and hope to be able to raise more funds for the hospice.
Thanks to supporters like you the hospice team can continue to be there for the whole family when life couldn’t get any tougher and for that I am truly thankful.