A ST HELENS Dad who tragically lost his four-year-old son has been promoting the ‘incredible job’ of staff at the Alder Centre as they open a new building to expand their services.

Chris Lamb, 44, was a guest on the BBC Breakfast show on Sunday, September 12, to highlight the work and expansion of the Alder Centre, which provides bereavement and counselling services to families who have lost children.

Chris, from Rainford, lost his son Elliott in 2010 to a condition called congenital cytomelovirus.

While the virus is common and usually harmless, it can cause serious health problems in some babies who are infected before birth, or in people who have a weakened immune system.

With complications caused by the virus, Elliott spent a considerable amount of time at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital and in an intensive care unit before he sadly passed away.

St Helens Star: Elliott Lamb sadly passed away aged 4 in 2010Elliott Lamb sadly passed away aged 4 in 2010

Although Chris knew his son’s death was coming, it still seriously impacted his mental health.

Struggling to come terms with the reality of the situation, Chris “reluctantly” visited the Alder Centre, which has a team of specialised counsellors that support families through their grief.

Explaining his experience of the service, Chris explained it was “the best thing I ever did” and used the counselling services for two years to come to terms with his loss.

“It is a really special place where you can just drop in and access their support. They provide support and counselling for bereaved families, and they were just really there for us.”

“They do an incredible job and they tailor their service to each parent. It’s the only purpose-built building in the country […] so we are so lucky to have it on our doorstep.”

St Helens Star: Chris, left, has started charity events to thank hospital and hospice staff for their continued workChris, left, has started charity events to thank hospital and hospice staff for their continued work

Chris was invited on the BBC Breakfast along with Fiona Berry, Service Manager for the Alder Centre, to speak about their services and expansion.

Referencing this “enormous privilege”, Chris said: “Speaking about Elliott and the care the Alder Centre gave me when he flew to the sky is always hard, but if it helps just one person then I will continue to do it.

“I owe so much to the people who run and work at the centre as do many others.”

St Helens Star: The Alder Centre officially opened in the Alder Hey Children's Hospital site on Friday, September 10The Alder Centre officially opened in the Alder Hey Children's Hospital site on Friday, September 10

Fiona Berry, from the Alder Centre, added: “We are a very unique and special place here at the Alder Centre […] which offer counselling from qualified grief and loss professionals, and an immediate response team to offer support within an hour of a child’s death.

“We’re the only service in the UK to do this, and officially opened in 1989 by a group of bereaved parents and concerned professionals who realised there was no support for parents after a child’s death.

“Our new building gives us a permanent home and a safe haven for anybody affected by the loss of a child, to get support, relax or talk to other bereaved families.

“The breakfast show was intended to raise awareness of our services to make sure that no body has to grieve alone.

Fiona explained that their services are open to anyone across the country, and include virtual sessions for families that can’t make it to the centre.

St Helens Star: The Alder Centre provides specialised support for bereaved families who have lost a childThe Alder Centre provides specialised support for bereaved families who have lost a child

Although Chris and his family have gone through tragic events, he said from the help of those at the Alder Centre, he now looks to turn negatives into positives, and does positive things to keep Elliott’s memory alive.

This includes his annual charity event, Make A Difference Friday, which has seen him donate more than 100,000 chocolate oranges to hospital and hospice staff in memory of Elliott.

With his continued support and the hope he can help others, Chris added: “In the darkest times shine the brightest stars.”