Grieving gran’s support group

Carol Ellwood with the giant teddy bear containing the ashes of granddaughter Amy Dale (pictured on the teddy's T-shirt)
Carol Ellwood with the giant teddy bear containing the ashes of granddaughter Amy Dale (pictured on the teddy's T-shirt)

A HEARTBROKEN gran whose granddaughter died aged just two is setting up a support group to help others in crisis.

Carol Ellwood’s granddaughter Amy Dale died on April 4 following complications at The Great North Children’s Hospital, in Newcastle.

Carol looked after Amy “like a mother” while caring for her daughter, Amy’s mum, Stacey Dale, 25, who has mental problems.

The youngster had suffered from various health conditions, including cerebral palsy, fluid on the brain and walking and hearing difficulties, after being born with septicaemia.

The 46-year-old said Amy had endured 16 operations and was treated at hospitals as far away as Liverpool’s Alder Hay for cranial operations.

She said she had resuscitated Amy after she “died” when she was just seven days old.

A tearful Carol, who is also mum to Craig Mitchell, 28, and Zoe Ellwood, 23, gains comfort from a giant teddybear which contains Amy’s ashes.

She said: “Amy’s death has left a gaping hole.

“She was bright, happy and bubbly with an infectious laugh - everybody just fell in love with her.

“I was her full-time carer as her mother is disabled.

“None of us are coping, that’s why I want to help other people.”

Carol, whose partner James Holcroft, 42, was diagnosed with testicular cancer last year, is getting help to hold a support group.

Backed by Abby Thompson, voluntary development manager at East Durham Trust, it will be an initial session with a view to gauging how much interest there is before holding more in the future.

The group is open to anyone who has suffered loss of a loved one, whether through death, divorce, separation, or even the death of a pet.

Carol, who is also grandmother to Kyle Mitchell, 11, Steven Mitchell, eight, Liam Mitchell, seven, who also suffers from cerebral palsy and has fluid on the brain, Jaydon Burton, two, and one-year-old Cieanna Hockaday, said: “When I hear about other people’s problems it helps because then I know I’m not the only one with problems.

“Sometimes you just feel alone.”

Carol, of Fairbairn Road, Peterlee, who lost her parents Margaret and Tommy Ellwood to emphysema 10 years and two years ago respectively, added: “It’s not just for bereavement.

“I’ve got counselling but there isn’t really much help for others in the east Durham area.

“I want to set a group up so we can all talk.

“I love being a nana, I love being a mum but I also love being a friend.”

The meeting will be held from 10am-noon on Wednesday, November 2 at the Edenhill and Chapel Hill Residents’ Association, 26 Crawford Avenue, Peterlee.

For more information, call Carol on 07880 954966.