Imogen Whitby from Banbury died from a brain tumour in 2017, aged just two years old, and is now the face of the Helen & Douglas House Christmas appeal, the local children’s hospice who cared for her and are still supporting her family with bereavement counselling
Helen & Douglas House care for local terminally ill children like Immy and their families. In the past year, the number of local children with cancer they have cared for has nearly doubled. This local children’s hospice do all they can to make every last moment count for these local families.
The first £10,000 of donations made to the Christmas appeal this year have been matched by sponsor Ravensburger, a leading games and puzzle manufacturer based in Bicester.
Immy’s mum, Kathryn Whitby, said: "For months our little girl Immy was hooked up to beeping machines and endless tubes. It was necessary, of course it was, she had cancer. But it was like we were trapped in a void, gasping for breath. My heart broke when they said I couldn’t cuddle my baby.
"Then we were told she was dying. Immy was a few days past her second birthday. And she had just days to live. We were devastated. In those darkest of times, we found somewhere we could breathe again. Where - thanks to the generosity of supporters like you – Helen & Douglas House make every moment count.
"Helen & Douglas House helped Immy die with dignity. She wasn’t hooked up to machines or connected to endless tubes. Instead, she died in my arms and left this world as she’d come into it – surrounded by love. In the days before Immy died, she was very poorly. She couldn’t see or really hear, but I knew she could still feel. And I wanted her to have the sun on her face one last time.
"So we wheeled her into the beautiful, tranquil garden at Helen & Douglas House. There were robins in the trees – Immy loved birds so much – and we sat on a bench, in the winter sunshine, listening to them sing. I cuddled her so tightly and I whispered, “I love you. I love you. I love you.
"With a gift from you this Christmas you’re helping Helen & Douglas House to provide the care and support that families need in the darkest of times. Without them, I just don’t know where children would go or how their families would cope.
"This Christmas, you can help them make every moment count for families like mine. And you can help parents cuddle their children - until the very end."
You can make a gift today and help the Helen & Douglas House Christmas appeal using the following web link: https://www.helenanddouglas.org.uk/christmas-appeal-2021/Emma Murphy with Helen & Douglas House said: "Our expert team support local families at our hospice in Oxford and at home through the festive period. We enable parents like Kathryn and Lester to say a proper goodbye, before and after a child like Immy dies, and help them cope with their loss through our bereavement support services.
"But none of our work is possible without the support of people like you. We need £3.6m a year to run the hospice and over 80 per cent of that comes from supporters like you. We’d like to thank you for your support and say a massive thank you to Ravensburger for doubling donations made in this year’s Christmas appeal."
Katy Fletcher from Ravensburger said: "We are delighted to be able to help Helen & Douglas House care for more local families with terminally ill children this Christmas by matching donations to their Christmas Appeal up the £10,000. They are such a wonderful local charity that needs your support now more than ever this Christmas to make moments matter. Please give a special gift this Christmas by making a donation to help make every moment count for families like Kathryn's."
You can watch and hear Kathryn’s story here through a YouTube video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ViNG6zZ4hRA