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Mother of autistic boy, cared for 300 miles away faces Christmas without him

Eddie is being cared for 300 miles away from home Photo: ITV News

The mother of an autistic boy who is being looked after at a mental health hospital 300 miles away is facing another Christmas without her child.

  • Watch Lise McNally's report - The mother facing Christmas without her teenage son

Adele Hanlon's son Eddie Marshall has been treated in Newcastle since he was 13. She's been campaigning to get care for him closer to their home in Bristol - and says this time of year can be the hardest of all.

I think I kind of become a grump in November, when I know it's coming. It's really difficult because it was the second week of December which was the last time Eddie was in his home, so around Christmas time is a real struggle.

We have to be festive for the little people, but it's quite hard. We just miss him so much.

– Adele Hanlon, Eddie's mum

Eddie has a complex range of health issues which means he needs round-the-clock care at a hospital in Newcastle. He's lived there ever since his mother was told there was nowhere near their home in Southmead which could cater to his needs.

54
Number of mental health beds for children in the South West

The South West has just 54 mental health beds for children - the lowest number anywhere in the country. That's one bed, for every 20,000 people.

Adele's fight to bring Eddie closer to home has had some success. The local authority and NHS are hoping to get some bespoke care organised in Bristol. But it won't be until at least the summer.

Meanwhile the little boy who left her home is becoming a man, and Adele feels she's missing it.

He shaved for the first time before our last visit, and that's really lovely, but at the same time, it wasn't with us.

– Adele Hanlon, Eddie's mum

There are presents for 17-year-old Eddie under the tree, and although he won't be there to open them on Christmas morning, his family will try to bring him some festive cheer.

This week they'll make the 600 mile round trip to Newcastle - a journey that starts at the crack of dawn.

There are presents and memories of Eddie at his home Credit: ITV News

The hope is that if he's well enough - because he struggles at this time of year as well - we'll go and see him and share gifts, and have our Christmas with him. But when you're going up there, you know you've got to come back, and that's the really really difficult bit, Towards the end he'll get upset because he knows it's coming to an end, and it's really hard.

– Adele Hanlon, Eddie's mum

Another return journey without her child - but Adele says she'll keep on campaigning to make sure no other family have to face the holidays hundreds of miles apart.