Lifetime mission to help children’s hospice

Martin House - Thomas and lamb
Martin House - Thomas and lamb

A grandmother has embarked on a lifetime mission to repay the inspirational care given to her young grandson before he died in February.

Thomas Pearson was just 14 weeks old when he died in Martin House Children’s Hospice after suffering breathing difficulties, yet to be explained, from birth.

Mum Kirsty Pearson and son Thomas at Martin House.

Mum Kirsty Pearson and son Thomas at Martin House.

But grandmother Jakki James, who works at Wetherby-based Bathing Design Studio, has vowed to raise money in memory of her treasured only grandson and is starting with her first fundraiser - The Big Chocolate Tea Party on May 19.

The sales director at the Audby Lane showroom said: “While Thomas was in Martin House, in fact the day before he passed away, Nuzzlets farm paid them a visit with some little animals.

“One of them was a four-day-old orphaned lamb.

“The little lamb was placed in the cot with Thomas and they both fell asleep together.

Wetherby News   8th may 2012'Big Chocolate Tea Party charity event'Jakki James gets ready for the party

Wetherby News 8th may 2012'Big Chocolate Tea Party charity event'Jakki James gets ready for the party

“Everyone at the hospice was touched by it.

“It was amazing and I thought then that I must do something to repay their care.”

Thomas was born before Christmas in York District Hospital but it soon became apparent to staff and parents Kirsty and Tim Pearson, of York, that something was wrong with their first child.

“The latest diagnosis, as it still has to be confirmed, is that he had congenital muscular myopathy, which infected his core muscles and meant that he could not suck and could not move his trunk or head,” explained Jakki.

Yet through the heartbreak she said the family found comfort and strength.

“We had an amazing journey from the special care baby unit at York to LGI and Martin House. We cannot thank them enough. They have all been wonderful.”

Thomas was taken to Martin House for two “amazing” days when it was decided nothing more could be done and for respite care for Thomas and the family.

“Kirsty had spent every night since Thomas was born sleeping on a make up bed at his side in hospital and she was worn out.

“Because of the level of one-to-one care that Thomas was given, Kirsty felt able to leave him and have a good night’s sleep.

“Martin House is an amazing place and not a sad place, and we were really taken by that from the moment we walked through the door.

“The children seem so happy and everyone is so respectful to them and the families.”

Jakki added: “They did a lot of memory building with us, with such activities as finger painting and the visit by the little lamb from Nuzzlets.

“Even after Thomas passed away, the care given to Kirsty and Tim afterwards was amazing. This care goes on for two years.

“We have been so touched by everything they have done.”

As well as the Big Chocolate Tea Party, Jakki, who turns 50 next February, is aiming to boost funds further by taking part in the Great North Run in September with colleague Mark Hayward.

“We have raised £2,500 between us,” she said.

“I did the Great North run about nine years and then stopped running so training has been a hard slog. Mark has never done any running before.

“Then I want to complete the Martin House Santa Dash.

“I don’t think I will ever stop fundraising for Martin House.”

Martin House, which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year, needs about £4m annually to keep providing the care.

Nuzzlets will be attending the Tea Party fundraising day on May 19 with the lamb, who has been named Thomas after Jakki’s grandson.

And Jakki and fellow workers will be wearing Martin House orange t-shirts with the photograph of Thomas and the lamb on it.

Other attractions for the event, to be held at Bathing Design Studio, include pamper sessions, a special appearance by Martin House’s mascot Marty the Bear, a variety of home-baked cakes and a demonstration in the art of chocolate making by Thomas’s father and chef Tim.

Anyone who cannot attend the Big Chocolate Tea Party, from noon until 4pm, is urged to sponsor Jakki and Mark in their Great North Run bid by calling 01937 547434.