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Family grief highlights EACH's vital work

PUBLISHED: 09:20 21 January 2010 | UPDATED: 21:53 07 July 2010

WHEN Amanda and Luke Lawes' fourth child, Mason, was born they had just a few hours with their tiny son.

WHEN Amanda and Luke Lawes' fourth child, Mason, was born they had just a few hours with their tiny son.

For little Mason was severely brain damaged and for his short life was kept alive by machines.

It was a heart wrenching time for the Lawes family, from Watton, with their three other children who in January 2008 tragically had to say hello and goodbye at the same time to their newborn son and brother.

The family have received an enormous amount of support from East Anglia's Children's Hospices (EACH), and their story highlights how important it is that people help the charity fund its vital work with life-threatened children and their families.

Mrs Lawes, 35, said: “The few hours we had with our baby boy were precious to us all. Our family and friends all taking turns to say hello and deliver special kisses. It all felt unreal, like it wasn't really happening.”

She added: “Luke and I had one last time with him alone. I cradled him in my arms while Luke held me so tight - with lots of tears, we watched our son take a big sigh and said goodnight.”

Mrs Lawes said the support from EACH helped her and her husband, 37, stay strong for their other children Justina, 18, Nathan, 14, and Amelia, eight.

“With the help of EACH, Luke and I can release our feelings as a couple and be told it's normal to feel how we feel. It gives us the strength and energy to move forward, together. As every month goes by we feel the strength to carry on and cope with the heartache we have without our baby boy,” she said.

Justina, Nathan and Amelia have all joined the EACH Sibling Group, and have received individual bereavement support at home, while Mr and Mrs Lawes have been able to meet up with other parents in similar situations.

The Lawes were also invited to take part in a memory day at the hospice in Quidenham.

“It was incredible, something really special. As part of the activities, we made a special paper leaf and wrote messages to Mason on it. We then tied it to a balloon and released it after the ceremony - a very special moment for us all,” said Mrs Lawes.

For EACH to continue to help families like the Lawes it has a required annual income of £5.8 million which it generates through many sources including donations, sponsorship, legacies and its shops.

While Oxfam has reported donations to its charity shops have fallen by 15pc over the past 12 months, EACH has said its income from its shops is continuing to rise due to its expanding network of stores, and it is asking people to boost fundraising further by donating more goods including good quality clothes, bric-a-brac and DVDs.

Its predicted retail sales for the financial year March 2009 until March 2010 is £850,000, compared with £640,000 in 2008-09 and £556,000 in 2007-08.

t People can donate anything from good quality clothing to books to bicycles to televisions. To arrange for larger items to be collected by EACH call Karen Boxall on 01842 821620 or e-mail karen.boxall@each.org.uk

t People can also get involved in many EACH fundraising events from treks in places like Morocco or Iceland to balls and dinners.

t For more information visit www.each.org.uk or call 01223 205180.

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