Arlo’s Story - Summer Holiday Campaign 2021
To have a last holiday together meant the world to us. We were able to spend time together as a family and make precious memories with Arlo that we will cherish forever.
I’m Laura, Arlo’s mum, and I’d like to tell you about the holiday that Derian House Children’s Hospice gave to us, and to ask for your help to make sure every family with a seriously ill child gets to enjoy a final holiday together.
Arlo was born healthy, but just after his second birthday, he was diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumour and needed emergency surgery to save his life.
I was heavily pregnant with his baby brother Sebastian and went into labour while Arlo was in theatre having the operation. Somehow I hung on until we got the all clear from the surgeon, before going to the maternity hospital. Just hours after giving birth I was back at Arlo’s bedside, with his baby brother in tow.
Although it would be a long road to recovery we felt like we were getting our boy back.
But tragedy struck when, on a family break, Arlo had an accident and banged his head. Because of his illness, it was much more serious. Arlo was airlifted to hospital and we were given the devastating news that he was brain dead. With heavy hearts that we agreed to withdraw his life support.
But our little fighter wasn’t giving up, and he continued to breathe. We were allowed to move to Derian House Children’s Hospice, where we lived for six weeks. After spending so long in hospital it felt like we’d been saved.
At Derian we went in the Sensory Room, used the cinema, had a picnic in the garden and Jeff the chef fed us up with his huge portions! We were so well looked after. It felt amazing to just be a family again.
We’d been told Arlo wouldn’t have a good quality of life, almost like it wasn’t worth the effort. But at Derian House they tried to engage with him, letting him hold crinkly blankets and use the hydrotherapy pool where I felt his little body relax.
They treated him like he was important.
One of our most memorable experiences was using the Derian on Holiday lodge at Ribby Hall. We spent the week relaxing together, going on walks, playing on the swings, and Arlo loved feeding the ducks.
It’s hard to put into words what it meant to have that final time away together as a family.
The charity has bought two new holiday lodges, due to open this summer, and so now they will be able to give nearly 200 families a free holiday and the chance to make precious memories together every year.
By now the cancer had spread to Arlo’s spine and he was going downhill. Our precious boy died peacefully in his sleep on 29 November, 2020, aged three-years-old, just one month after our final holiday together. Our boy never got a choice about anything in his short life, but it felt like he had decided when it was finally time to slip away.
Arlo is buried in the churchyard just around the corner and we go to visit him every other day if the weather is alright. The local primary school is just across the road and so when Seb starts school it’ll be nice to know his big brother is always watching over him.
A couple of days after Arlo passed we found out that I was expecting – a little girl. Although there will always be a big piece missing from our little family, we are hopeful for the future.
At Arlo’s funeral we asked for donations to Derian House, and raised £1,500. This is enough to pay for another family like ours to enjoy a free week’s holiday at one of Derian’s holiday homes.
Derian House looks after children like Arlo from all across the North West. Care is free to families, but it costs the charity £5million every year. With just over 12% of running costs coming from the government, the charity relies heavily on its supporters.
The last 12 months have been really difficult, with more than £500,000 income lost due to cancelled events and the closure of charity shops.
Please give whatever you can to help other families make the very most of the precious time they have together, like Derian did for us.
Thank you for helping.
With love and best wishes