A trust fund started by a Hartlepool woman who lost her life to cancer is helping to save young people’s lives as it breaks the £100,000 mark for a unique service.
The Kay Smith Fund has now given £102,000 to fund a specialist child bereavement counsellor at Hartlepool & District Hospice, which praised the fund’s “phenomenal” achievement.
The fund was started by Kay, who died in January 2006 after a year-long battle against breast cancer.
As well as donating thousands of pounds to the hospice’s palliative care services, it has paid for specialist child bereavement counsellor, Angela Connor.
Service leaders say the counselling service, which is the only one of its kind in Hartlepool, has come to the rescue of young people whose lives have been at risk following the death of loved ones.
Members of the Kay Smith Fund presented £5,000 raised from fundraising this year to the counselling service yesterday.
Even though it is emotionally challenging I know it is making such a difference and that’s what Kay would have wantedAngela Connor, children’s bereavement counsellor
Jan Grocott, head of counselling and support services at the hospice, said of the fund’s ongoing support: “It has saved lives. We have had children who were harming themselves because they couldn’t articulate and make sense of death of a beloved parent or family member.
“But when we start working with them they often don’t want it to end.”
Angela added: “It is a real privilege to work with the kids and a real honour to do it in Kay’s name.
“Even though it is emotionally challenging I know it is making such a difference, and that’s what Kay would have wanted.
“It has been phenomenal what the fund and its members have achieved.”
Since the fund began supporting Angela’s role in 2012, she has helped more than 100 children through almost 700 one-to-one sessions.
Angela added: “It makes my job a lot easier to have the fund supporting me. I don’t think the town would be the same without it.”
Inspirational Kay, who lived in the Dyke House area of Hartlepool and worked as an administrator for Travis Perkins builders’ merchant, started the fund to support others going through similar situations to her.
It has also raised thousands of pounds to support research at the University Hospital of North Tees into the early detection of breast cancer which is making breakthroughs.
Mick Sumpter, a former colleague and member of the Kay Smith Fund, said: “It is such an honour to visit the hospice and get an insight on how things are developing.
“We understand that bereavement is complex and that each individual expresses their grief in many different ways.
“The Kay Smith Fund members are very proud of their connection with the counselling and Support Services Team at the hospice and take great comfort from the fact that the service delivered is of a very high standard.
“We know the money pledged today will be put to great use, particularly when you know young people are involved.
“The Kay Smith members remain committed to raising funds for the hospice and look forward to working with them in 2016.”