Kelly’s son Kalel died in 2019, aged just 11-years-old, after being born with a rare genetic condition.
He laid at rest in one of the Sunflower Rooms at Derian House before his funeral, giving his family extra time to say goodbye.
Dad Paul was so inspired by the care received by Derian House, he has begun work on a special documentary, titled The Little Things, to shine a light on the world of children’s hospices.
“Kalel was born on Bonfire Night in 2007 – our first child,” said Kelly.
“At that point, we were none-the-wiser of the future struggles he would have to suffer or the exceptional bravery and strength he would show us.
“As he grew, we noticed he was not meeting the milestones expected and we were referred to different medical professionals and Kalel underwent many tests.
“When Kalel was three-years old he had a seizure that continued for 12 hours and following this suffered significant brain damage. He could no longer eat or drink, had cerebral blindness, continued infections, and had lost most of his cognitive ability to understand what he previously had. That’s when we were referred to Derian House.”
Kalel and his family – mum Kelly, dad Paul, and brothers Jake, and Louie – were supported by the hospice in a number of ways.
“Before we came to Derian, we did not know what to expect,” said Kelly.
“When we got there, there was an overwhelming feeling of family and the sensation of a warm hug around us that I remember distinctly.
“There were so many events and parties that we had together as a family at Derian House that we still treasure to this day. Derian offered valuable overnight respite which gave us the chance to recuperate and rest knowing Kalel was safe and looked after.”
After Kalel died, the support continued.
“In May 2019 Kalel passed away in bed during the night,” remembered Kelly. “We found him in the morning with his younger brother Jake singing to him.
“We called Derian House immediately and the staff helped us to get Kalel changed and brought to the hospice where he could rest in the Sunflower Room. This was just like any other children’s bedroom but just a lower temperature. It meant that while he was there, we could spend time with him if we wished before his funeral, and it also gave others the opportunity to visit him. We also had some keepsakes made that we hold very dear to us.
“Kalel was a remarkable little boy. Despite all of his medical problems, he never lost his spirit and the essence of what made him the funny, loving child he always was. He had a mischievous sense of humour, and you could always find him giggling at something that had tickled him; even the sound of a door handle pinging back would make him chuckle. The sound of a quacking duck. The most random of things would set him off.
“He loved animals, music, and going for long walks. We would go on trips together as a family to Cornwall, where he would love to sit in his wheelchair with the backdrop of the cliffs and ocean with the sunshine on his face. He also loved his time at school where he was doted on by the teachers, carers, and his classmates.
“After the loss of Kalel, and after the pandemic had settled, I found myself wanting to fill the time I spent caring for Kalel with something valuable,” Kelly continued.
“I trained to be a funeral director, helping other bereaved families in their time of crisis. A job making a difference and that is just part of Kalel’s legacy; I would never be doing this without Kalel.
“Derian House continues to help us. We know that should we ever need them, the staff will be there to help support us in our grief and to help us embrace the wonderful memories of times we shared together.
“We were lucky to have Kalel in our lives for 11 years, and Derian House has been a part of helping make those years one filled with love, laughter, and making memories.”