Thursday, July 25, 2024

Stifford’s Sheria raises funds in memory of Bridie

A YOUNG girl has helped to buy some new equipment for Little Havens Hospice after hosting a special fundraiser in her school.

Sheria Smith, aged 10, organised the fundraiser at Stiffords Clays Primary School in memory of her friend, Bridie Philpott. Staff and pupils helped to raise £400 by selling cakes, cards and taking part in a non-uniform day. The youngster used the donations to buy an i-pod docking station, a portable DVD and CD player and some new laser lights for the hospice’s multi-sensory room.

Sheria’s mum Kim said, “Sheria wanted to do something for Bridie and she’s really enjoyed it. It’s been lovely for her to do something to make a difference; and she talks about it all the time. I’m really proud of her because we all miss Bridie.”

Thanks to Sheria’s support, the new equipment will be used by children at the hospice who have a life-limiting condition. Many of the children cared for by Little Havens have conditions which mean their senses are impaired and using music or sensory play can help to stimulate or relax a child.

Bridie had been cared for by Little Havens since she was a little girl because she had Battens Disease, a life-limiting, neurodegenerative condition. Her brother John, now cared for at home by his mum Marina, has the same illness.

Marina said, “John was 7 and Bridie was 5 years old when they were diagnosed. I cried continuously. Great Ormond Street Hospital said there was nothing they could do and the best we could hope for was that they’d live into their early teens. The fact that my children were going to die was the hardest thing of all but we had to carry on as normal.”

The condition caused Bridie’s legs to become weak and she would fall over, then her eyesight and speech started to go. John lost his eyesight first but could still walk, and then his speech deteriorated. John continues to take the medication they both needed to control his seizures and needs morphine to ease his pain too.

“I didn’t want to go to the hospice at first. There was no way my children needed a hospice. But Little Havens came to be a place that has always been there for us. The kids think it’s a holiday. And it gives me a break; it means I can have my time. It allowed me to become Mum again, and not their nurse.”

Sadly, Bridie, aged 13, died at the hospice on 6th January 2012.

“Bridie suffered for so long that it was a relief when she died. We wanted her to be at home but John wasn’t very well so we stayed at Little Havens, and now I’m so glad we did. I couldn’t have coped at home. She had started to sleep a lot but on New Year’s Day she was wide awake, smiling and giggling. A few days later her body gave up the fight.

“I still have my time to grieve for Bridie but I have to just carry on, for John, I have no choice. I have to look after him. But mums are strong and Little Havens is always there for me, even if it’s 3am and I need some advice over the phone. But the hardest thing is missing her, missing the silly things. I miss her every single day.

“No mother should have to bury their child but I do feel blessed every day. Our house is full of laughter. And even though I know things will get worse, I appreciate the days when John wakes up and smiles. I appreciate every day I have with my children.”

To find out how your support could help children and families cared for by Little Havens Hospice, please call 01702 220350 or visit


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