Wirral dad asks people to support Claire House Christmas Appeal and give hope to families like his
2 months ago
Claire House is a centre to support terminally ill children and their families on the Wirral
When their second child Aaron was born with a severe genetic disorder last year, Josh and Emma Fox didn’t know whether they’d even get to take him home, let alone enjoy Christmas with him and his older brother, Callum.
But thanks to Aaron’s brave battle, and help from Claire House Children’s Hospice, the Willaston couple were able to spend precious time together for that first festive season as a family of four.
“And it was fantastic,” Josh says. “To be able to bring Aaron home from Alder Hey, to be able to do all those Christmas things and be able to see Callum opening his presents with his brother beside him was just amazing.
“They are memories which we will cherish for the rest of our lives.
“Claire House are incredible, not just with Aaron, but with all of us.
“They are always there to prop us up. Claire House have been an absolute lifeline… they’re a second family to us.”
It’s that special place Claire House has in their hearts, and what they do for them, that has meant this year, Josh and Emma have made an emotional plea for people to support the hospice’s Christmas Appeal – and give help and hope to others like them.
“They’ve helped us in every way possible, and I don’t know where we’d be without them,” adds Josh. “I just want people reading and listening to radio commercials to understand how much they do for us, and how much we rely on them. They need to be there for others like they are for us, which is why we are supporting them and promoting them in any way we can.
“So I’d ask people to please, give to Claire House, so they can help make Christmas special for families like ours.”
Josh, 38, who co-owns a precision engineering company in Flint, recalls how, just over 12 months ago, he and Emma had watched their two young sons opening all their presents, with wrapping paper scattered across the living room floor.
As they looked at all the gifts they’d got, they’d joked it looked like a Smyths toy superstore.
But while there were smiles and lots of joy, it was a very different Christmas to the one they’d imagined.
“Aaron was born four months before Christmas, and having Callum, a lively four-year-old at the time, we thought we knew what to expect,” says Josh.
Nothing, however, could have prepared them for what was to come. Their little boy was born with a serious disorder which, at first, doctors thought he might not even survive.
“We were told Aaron wouldn’t ever leave hospital, but our boy was a fighter. And, although he was still very poorly, he was taken off the ventilator and allowed home.
“We made the decision that we wanted to care for Aaron with us at home, and it’s thanks to the support of Claire House and the medical profession that we were able to do that.”
Claire House helps seriously and terminally-ill children make the most of the time they have, and provides specialist nursing and end of life care, as well as emotional support for families through some of the toughest times of their lives.
“Claire House was a place filled with love,” says Josh, “and since he left hospital, Aaron has had monthly stays at Claire House and home visits from the team every week.
“They offer support for Callum, and counselling, and their nurses are there for us whenever we need them… even at Christmas.
“For us, Claire House is the best thing in the world.
“Aaron needs round the clock care. He has multiple seizures a day, he needs many medicines, and he’s fed by a tube.
“Because he has such complex needs, Aaron can spend up to 10 hours a day distressed. It’s hard to do things with Callum at times like this.
“Claire House offers respite care which helps my wife Emma and I to have a more normal relationship with our five-year-old, as well as with each other.”
For the family that’s a huge relief. And an emotional Josh admits: “You don’t want to be relieved you’re not looking after your boy, but sometimes it’s hard to look after my boy.”
Josh says: “With your second child, you plan more than you do with your first, because you’ve got an insight into what’s to come.
“We imagined watching Callum chase Aaron across the playing field, but unfortunately that’s not going to happen. So instead, we grab on to every little thing we can.
“Aaron’s not going to have a normal life, but Claire House help us make sure he’ll have the best life he can – they even threw him a first birthday party. And we are lucky to be looking forward to a second Christmas with Aaron.”
The future is unknown for Aaron, but Josh and Emma do know that they will look after him and love him, just like they do Callum.
And Josh adds: “Callum adores his younger brother, he’s the light of his life. Anyone who sees them together can see how much love and compassion Callum has for Aaron.
“I don’t know where we would all be without Claire House. They’ve helped so much, from respite care to medical help – they are actively involved in almost every aspect of our lives. They help us to live as normal a life as possible, to be a family, and to make memories.
“It’s something that doesn’t cross your mind until it happens to you. But when you’re in that situation, Claire House is irreplaceable.”