A COUPLE who lost both their children to illness are sharing their story ahead of the sixth anniversary of their son's death, to explain how fulfilling one of his dreams has made their 'house a home' again.

Karen and Paul Ledsham from Haydock, suffered the devastation of their son Harrison, 12, dying from bone cancer in 2015 and one-year-old Abigail from Sandhoffs Disease in 2008.

Harrison and Abigail

Harrison and Abigail

One shred of comfort came from a priceless comment made by Harrison a few months before he passed, when he said to his parents, “Mum and Dad - why don’t you foster or adopt?” a piece of thoughtful advice that a few years later Karen and Paul would make a reality.

Later this week, May 14 is the sixth anniversary of Harrison’s death. He would’ve been 18 years-old, an age to explore life and enjoy special times with his friends and family.

His parents reflect on those final few months they spent with their son and how they managed to create something truly special to look back upon.

Harrison and Abigail

Harrison and Abigail

When Karen, 48 and Paul, 52, had absorbed Harrison’s final diagnosis, they just wanted to make the remaining precious time they had together all about making memories.

This is when they found out about national charity Henry Dancer Days which supports Children with Cancer predominately with Primary Bone Cancer and helping their families with life changing essentials.

In 2014, with their Memory Making grant Karen and Paul took Harrison on a fabulous 4-day whistle stop tour of London, where no sightseeing stone was left unturned.

Abigail and Paul

Abigail and Paul

Karen said: “We can never in a million years be able to repay the kindness shown to us by Henry Dancer Days. We didn’t think that charities like these really existed. Our photo album is crammed full of happy smiling faces and the heartfelt laughter jumps out from the page – something that we could never have of imagined during a time of such sadness.”

Karen and Paul talk about their emotions of grieving for Abigail and Harrison. The indescribable life changing feeling of losing two children and having to build themselves back up after going through the traumatic experience, TWICE.

Paul said: “When you experience something like severe loss of this kind you find out from other people who are going through a similar life journey that you are not alone.

"It is heart breaking. It is life changeable as you feel like you’ve lost your hopes and dreams.

Harrison in London

Harrison in London

“It still seems all very unreal like time has stood still for us. We appreciate that nothing can take the hurt or pain of grief away. But it is okay to ask for help, whether that is from charities like Henry Dancer Days or from friends and family members who are desperate to offer a warm hug of support.

“You can lean on people as it does make things a little bit easier.”

Even during the darkest of days of Harrison’s cancer he uttered some touching words of advice to his Mum and Dad.

He said: “Why don’t you think about fostering or adoption?” This heart-felt idea from a loving son to his parents was something that Karen and Paul definitely took on-board as over the past four-years they have fostered three children in two separate placements.

They are currently fostering two young siblings (a brother and sister), who are both under the age of ten-years-old.


Harrison was a big Saints supporter

Karen said: “It is such a lovely feeling to think that we’ve been able to fulfil one of Harrison’s lasting ideas for us to become parents again. Fostering is so rewarding as it allows us to care for and look after young people using the adoration and emotions we are lucky to have etched in our hearts after our eternal love for Harrison and Abigail.

“A house just isn’t a home without the presence of children.”

Karen and Paul set up a fundraiser Prom Night in honour of Harrison, on the same night he should’ve left school. In attendance were a number of his close friends and after the Prom Night they created a time capsule which contains photographs and messages from everyone who attended.

They will continue to add items up until Harrison’s 21st birthday, when they will then bury the capsule in their garden.

For further information about the projects and schemes delivered by Henry Dancer Days including how to apply for Hardship Support please visit henrydancerdays.co.uk.