Hawick couple who lost 6-month-old son hope to support other parents through charity

  • Video report by Clare McNeill

A couple from Hawick who lost their 6-month-old baby to an extremely rare cancer have set up a project to support parents facing long and unexpected stays in hospital with their sick children.

Sean and Natalie Wright formed 'Oliver's Trust' in their son's name after he died in 2018, and have created a collection of special care packages which are now being distributed within Borders General Hospital.

Their 'Pick-Me-Up Packages' are filled with essentials and toiletries, as well as some more thoughtful mementos.

Oliver Wright

His parents say little Oliver was a normal, giggly, happy little baby. But within a few months they realised something wasn't quite right.

"He was really happy, smiley, bubbly, quite advanced with his milestones," said mum Natalie.

"But he got to maybe four months and started deteriorating. It was bronchiolitis at first and then it got much worse, quite quickly. But for ages the doctors really didn't know what it was."They'd spoke to oncologists all over the world and everybody was fascinated in a way, saying they couldn't explain it. It was kind of the last two days of his life that we found out, the doctors had figured it out, but it was sadly too late."They'd figured out what it was what they could possibly do to help but it was too late."

Just before he died, Oliver was diagnosed with Langerhans' cell histiocytosis (LCH), which is a very rare cancer. Only around 1 in 2 million children get it."For the last month of his life I was constantly there in hospital, so that it took its toll a bit for me," said Natalie."I wasn't allowed to stay,' Sean added. 'So was coming back, working, going over for the rest of the night, going home for a sleep, then back to work and back to the hospital.

"It was hard not being there and hard trying to work on top of it. It was difficult, but needs must."

Oliver with mum Natalie and dad Sean

It was for that last month of Oliver's life that Sean and Natalie spent most of their time by his hospital bed; Sean travelling between the hospital and work, while Natalie stayed 24 hours a day, every day.

It was tough on both of them. And after Oliver passed, they wanted to find a way to offer support to other parents facing those painstaking stays in hospital.

After much fundraising, they've created a collection of 'Pick-Me-Up Packages' which parents can be given during those unexpected and long stays in wards.

"When we were in hospital it was unexpected so I didn't have any toiletries or anything, said Natalie.

"I was just having to beg, borrow, and steal and it was just something that we really wanted to have in place for other people so they didn't have to worry, because it's the last thing on your mind, thinking I've forgot my bag and toiletries, so it was something that really meant a lot to us, that we could've really done with when we were there."

The 'Pick-Me-Up Packages' are being distributed within Borders General Hospital

As well as deodorants, shampoos, and toothbrushes, one special touch they've added are a set of 'bonding hearts.' 

The hand sewn cloth hearts were donated by the Scrubs Sewing Group in Hawick are to help sustain a bond between parent and child. Each keeps a heart close to them so their scent is transferred, before swapping them over, so each has the scent of the other.

Sean and Natalie say they were a great help when Sean was working, for Oliver to feel like his dad was close by.

The packages include a set of 'bonding hearts'

Dozens of their care packages have already been handed out with Borders General Hospital and the couple hope to continue the project as long as it's needed.

The end goal for Oliver's Trust is ultimately to create a home from home within or near their local hospital, where anyone needing to stay with their sick child can get some respite out with the ward.

But they admit it will probably take years of fundraising and work before it becomes a possibility.

Until then, these packages hope to be a small source of comfort to parents when they need it most.