A kind-hearted mother who lost her 17-year-old daughter to cancer is creating hampers to help other bereaved families.
Cheryl Watson, of Intake, set up Ashleigh’s Gift and started creating the hampers in memory of her daughter, Ashleigh Parks, who died of a very rare and aggressive form of cancer in January 2013.
Ashleigh was diagnosed with brain and spine cancer in April 2011 and started going to Bluebell Wood Children’s Hospice 16 months later, in August 2012.
Cheryl said: “Ashleigh loved it. It wasn’t just there for her, it was for us all to be together as a family.
“December came and Ashleigh very quickly began to deteriorate. On Christmas Eve we were rushed to Bluebell Wood for what was to be the last time. The staff made it a magical Christmas for us all.
“In the early hours of January 4, with me and her dad holding her hands, Ashleigh peacefully passed away. My beautiful girl gone.
“We were then moved to a private suite called forget-me-not where our bedroom was next to Ashleigh’s.
“We could be with her as much as we wanted, family could come to say their goodbyes and we got to spend 12 more precious days with her. The care is amazing.
“After the loss I didn’t want to get up in the morning but I knew I had to do something. Then it came to me; as we were rushed in we forgot all sorts and shops were closed. The last thing anyone needs at a time like this is remembering what to take with you so I set up Ashleigh’s Gift in her memory.
“My idea was to provide every family who lose their child with a hamper containing essentials and small comforts. The boxes can then be used as memory boxes.”
The hampers contain many items, including shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste and shower gel, deodorant, notebook and pen, biscuits, a small bottle of wine and beer for mum and dad, and also an Ashleigh’s Gift bear.
The end of life suites give families time to say goodbye children, and staff there also provide counselling, sibling support, therapies and more.
Sarah Branson, Care Team Manager at Bluebell Wood Children’s Hospice, said: “Families are always so grateful to receive Ashleigh’s Gift. It’s a comforting and thoughtful basket of items.
“We’d like to thank Cheryl for providing Ashleigh’s Gift, it’s such a lovely tribute.”
To find out more about Ashleigh’s Gift and how you can help, search for ‘Ashleigh’s Gift’ on Facebook or e-mail Cheryl at firstname.lastname@example.org