Today’s kind act is for two very deserving mums who both lost their little boys recently. It’s heartbreaking enough for your child to die, let alone during a global pandemic so I wanted to give them a few little gifts to show they’re not alone.
I read ‘The Baby Loss Guide’ while on holiday after Etta’s funeral and I found it really helped. Zoe Clarke-Coates has a way of validating your own thoughts with her beautiful words. I hope they find it as helpful.
My friend Vicky from ‘Cute Bits’ kindly made them each a bookmark with their baby’s initial on it. She even made me a beautiful one for Etta which I can’t wait to use ⭐️💖
Thinking of you both in the run up to Christmas- I wish your boys were in your arms as well as your hearts ❤️
Today’s kind act is for some of our NHS heroes. I know this year it’s been great to see a new appreciation for our careers who work on the frontline but for Sam and I this definitely started last year after Etta was born.
So many NHS workers were part of Etta’s short life but in particular we want to thank the PICU staff who looked after Etta for 3 out of her 4 weeks with us.
But how do you thank the people who worked around the clock trying to save your child? Took photographs and videos which would become our most treasured possessions? Cried with us and smiled with us through Etta’s ups and downs? Used their own hands to pump her heart when it was trying to stop?
Well.. apparently with a Cartwright and Butler Merry Christmas Hamper! 🤪 There are no words that will ever be enough but we’ve sent a Christmas hamper to them again like we did last year to show a little of our appreciation.
I really hope it has arrived and they can enjoy some of the Christmas goodies inside. They deserve it and so much more ❤️🎄💚🎁
If you’d like to donate towards the PICU then you can visit our JustGiving page to give towards Etta’s star tribute fund ⭐️
Today’s kind act was a lot of fun! I helped out at the Trussell Trust’s social enterprise warehouse which meant sorting through loads of clothes donations. I was made to feel so welcome and even got a dupe of tea ☕️ Funds made through their charity shops support their aim of stopping UK hunger through their food banks.
The Trussell Trust was founded in Salisbury, by Paddy and Carol Henderson (who went to the same church as our family). Although the charity was originally set up to help those in poverty in Bulgaria, one evening a local mother phoned up to ask what the charity was doing to support those like her in the city. And the rest, as they say, is history! It’s an amazing reminder that something as simple as a phone call and some very kind people can change the world!
It’s been a real privilege to see the trussell trust expand into the amazing charity that it is today, although heartbreaking that there is such a need for it- this year more than ever.
A few ways you can support the Trussell Trust this Christmas:
Donate to your local TT food bank- there are now collection points all over the UK!
If there is a community shop near you, you can donate high quality goods (clothes, electronics, furniture etc. )
Visit their eBay and depop shop for some christmas presents 🎁
Today’s kind act was bringing treats into the office. I wasn’t in work today so today this fell to Sam who grabbed some goodies on the commute! However, apparently he was very upstaged by some delicious homemade chocolate muffins. Oh well- it’s the thought that counts!
This morning, Sam and I started writing Christmas cards and it got me thinking about all the thank you cards we wrote after Etta died- to all the doctors, nurses and midwives that had been involved in her care.
I realised there were lots of other people I wanted to thank too. So today’s kind act is writing some thank you cards to those who have supported me this year. I’ll be honest- I wish I could have written to so many more friends and family members but I found this act of kindness emotional. As per usual with this grief thing, I feel filled with so much gratitude for the people around me whilst being filled with so much sorrow for the one person I don’t. It’s hard to look back at this year with a thankful heart but today is for the many people who have continued to hold us up when it felt like grief was going to pull us under. Thank you ❤️
Maybe your kind act could be a thank you card- it’s so nice to see those words written down from a loved one. I certainly have appreciated all your kind letters and cards this year. Also who doesn’t love receiving post?!
Today’s kind act was a simple one- we put a few coins in the parking meter so pay for the next person’s parking. I took Ezzie to the hospital the other day (because he shoved a popcorn kernel up his nose 🤦🏼♀️) and when I arrived I realised I didn’t have my purse with me. We were late for our appointment at A and E and you couldn’t pay using your mobile so I just had to risk not getting a ticket. How great it would have been if someone had paid for me then! Hopefully this put a smile on someone’s face as they were out to run errands or do their Christmas shopping.
This morning, we also walked up the hill where we scattered Etta’s ashes and it was lovely to go back to the same spot to lay some flowers in the Winter sunshine. One of us preferred to throw them over the edge to show their love for Etta! ❤️💐
Today’s kind act is basically a humble brag about how young I am! 💁🏼♀️ Today, I signed up to be on the stem cell register through Anthony Nolan which is possible if you are aged 16-30. Sam is a keen bean and signed up a while ago! This means that if we are a match with somebody with a blood cancer/disorder then we can donate stem cells (bone marrow) to save their life. Pretty amazing stuff. But right now due to COVID they are really struggling to get more people onto the register and children and adults around the world are dying before a match is found.
If you want to go onto the register, then you will be on the register until you are 61 and you must be happy with the procedures. Most people (90%) would follow a process similar to giving blood but just with some injections beforehand and a longer donation time. However 10% would need to go under general anaesthetic so you need to be happy with this as a possibility. They then send out a simple cheek swab test to see if your a match.
Your chances of being a match are fairly low (although they are higher for certain ethnicities and if you are male) but how amazing would it be if you could do this for somebody?
We wanted Etta to donate her organs but our beautiful girl had gone through so much in her short life that her organs weren’t suitable for donation. ❤️ So this is an important one for us.
If you are over 30 (👵🏼🧓🏾) then you can still join the stem cell register but you will need to do it through: The British Bone Marrow Registry (if you are male and aged 17-40 or female aged 17-40 and from Black, Asian, mixed or minority ethnic backgrounds) DKMS (if you’re aged 18-55 and in good health- you will need to pay £40 to cover the cost though)
We are more than halfway through the Better for Etta Kindness Campaign 🙌🏻. Thank you for all the support, donations and kind messages so far. I’ve loved seeing all of your kind acts for Etta too. If you’d still like to donate towards Wallace & Gromit’s Grand Appeal then here is the link: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/betterforetta
Today’s kind act is for some of our amazing key workers who have had a busy busy year. Christmas presents for the milkman/postman and refuse collectors! Tomorrow is the last time our recycling is being collected before Christmas so we will be popping out all of their presents this evening ready for the morning. Just our way of saying a big thank you for all of their hard work!
Today’s kind act is a bit of a cheat because we’ve been busy today visiting Father Christmas!! 🎅🏻🎄
However, today is all about volunteering. I could talk all day about how great volunteering is- for you, for the people you help, for the community. There have been lots of studies to suggest that volunteering improves not only your mental health and well-being but also your physical well-being too. 💪🧠
When we moved back to Salisbury, I knew that I wanted to volunteer because it also helps you to meet people and become part of a community quickly.
I used the Community First Wiltshire website to find volunteering opportunities. The minute I found @Homestartuk I knew it would be for me. I loved volunteering with children and young people in Cheltenham but I knew that I would find it really rewarding this time supporting the parents with young children instead. It’s the toughest job out there!! They are a fantastic charity offering phone and home support for any parent with a child under 5 who want support for a variety of reasons. So I completed my training with @homestartsouthwiltshire back in October and look forward to supporting my first family in the new year. Hopefully, we’ll be allowed back in homes soon!
Sam on the other hand has been really busy with Sands United FC who meet for their first training session tomorrow evening. I couldn’t be prouder of how he has taken on this volunteering project. I basically pushed him into it because I knew that he would have loved to go to something like this but there just wasn’t anything like it in the Salisbury area. He has stepped up to the plate and dedicated so much of time and energy into not just the logistics, fundraising and recruitment but also already supporting fellow bereaved fathers who are going through a tough time.
One of the things I love most about Sam is that he gets so excited and passionate about the things and people he believes in and I know that he will help so many men with this group. He’s already started helping. At the end of the day, he is a grieving father who has lost his daughter and supported his wife through 2 miscarriages this year and yet he is digging deep and using those experiences to help others. I know @sufcsalisbury will go from strength to strength and he’s the perfect man for the job.
If YOU want to volunteer- it is worth just putting in a google search as your local council may well have a website that shows you all the opportunities near you. Most volunteering opportunities will fit around your schedule and are very flexible- you may even be able to volunteer from the comfort of your own home (especially at the moment) using your phone or computer.
“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” Arthur Ashe
Today’s kind act was donating a bereavement book package to Ezzie’s pre-school. When I spoke to Ezzie’s keyworker, she hadn’t heard of Winston’s Wish and they didn’t have any specific resources on grief.
So I thought instead of telling them about the books on the Winstons Wish and Child Bereavement UK websites, I would buy some of them instead! Sadly, Ezzie won’t be the only child to lose a sibling, parent or grandparent whilst at the pre-school.
I know that I found it really tricky to know what to say when I was teaching recently bereaved pupils in Key Stage 1 and I think pre-schoolers must be even harder! Hopefully, these resources will give them a place to start and confidence to broach such a hard topic.