I need answers, not through a need to blame someone but because I need not to blame me
I feel guilty
I need to know why
I love him and miss him
I want my children to go to sleep and not have the aching fear that they may never wake
Sometimes I feel like an imposter
I want to know there was nothing I could do
If I don't who will
I want to know it wasn't something I missed
My children deserve a future
I can't just sit back knowing that someone wants to try give us an answer
My heart aches so terribly
This is all I can do for him now
Today is a special day for us, our last baby starts school but, the start of anything new for all of my boys is a stark reminder for us that one will never reach these milestones.
September is the official start for our £100k Challenge and so from this point on I will find my newly acquired 'free time' being taken up with fundraising.
I know many of you have asked about Alexander's Charity Ball and this is in hand I promise and once we have this confirmed you will all know about it.
I will be updating the website and Facebook with the events I have planned so if you'd like to join us or can help us out I'd be really grateful. If you'd like to hold your own fundraiser then please do get in touch and I will help you out the best I can.
We have our JustGiving Page now live as well as our Text Donation Number as well
or Text LTAR99 £(and an amount of your choice) to 70070
Ok I'll admit I lost my mojo it's hard for to admit that especially as I've committed to the biggest challenge I'll probably undertake but fingers crossed it's on it's way back and I'm ready to get this challenge on the road.
You may (or may not) remember back in May that I said I would do my utmost to raise £100,000 for The Lullaby Trust in one year completing the challenge in September 2015 for Alexander's 10th Birthday.
The challenge is due to start next month and I'd love to start it with an awareness campaign on Social Media. A selfie or such like with a donation by text to our campaign, I know it's been done before but they always seem so successful I'd love to give it a shot.
I'm worried I'd be lying if I said I wasn't but I am determined and I will do my very very best to keep this campaign going but I know I am going to need so much help. Would you consider holding a fundraiser for me? It doesn't have to be huge just a gathering at home for friends, a tea party, a cake sale, anything that will help boost our total it is all going to help massively.
I'll make my apologies now for bombarding your Facebook and twitter pages but I'm not sure I have to words to express how important this research is to me and all those parents out there who put a healthy toddler to bed and then lost them to this silent killer. I'm not sure I can just carry on as normal knowing there is someone willing to undertake this investigation into Sudden Unexplained Death in Childhood, someone trying to give us answers, without doing my bit to get it underway.
Please if you think you can help us in any way at all no matter how big or small you think it is I'd love to hear from you I really am going to need all the help I can get for this one.
Can I just say a massive Thank You to everyone for their fabulous words of encouragement and excitement for the £100k challenge (as I've decided to call it)
I'm under no illusion that this is going to be easy and it is not going to happen at all without help ...lots of it!
There are lots of ideas about what we can do to raise this money but I need to really commit to something every month so instead of doing 10 challenges or fundraisers in the year September 2014 to September 2015 I think we need to think a little bit bigger and go for 1 a month (or more).
Obviously we already have some fundraisers in place in some months however if you would like to host a fundraiser yourself as part of our cause I'd be very grateful or if you are holding any fundraisers would you consider our cause to be the one you collect for? If you own your own business or work for a company could we be your chosen charity for a year? I am on with this one myself and even a collection box on a counter would make a huge difference to our total.
We need to kick start the year with something that will get our awareness up as well as getting people donating and I've seen the power of social media so had thought that maybe we could instigate a 'selfie' campaign such as 'A Selfie for SIDS' I know this has been done but it was so well received and was such a boost for the charities involved I'd love to give it a try and see how well we can spread the word.
So ideas on the table for fundraising are as follows:
Alexander's Charity Ball 2015
A Great Big 'Northern' Mile in Memory
Great North Run 2015
A Family Fun Day
A Cycling Challenge - Possibly Tower to Tower or Lands End to John O'Groats this is being handed over to those in the know !
Ladies Vintage Tea/Champagne Party
The Teens are looking into organising their own Football Tournament
Supermarket Bag Packing
Tough Mudder (Or equivalent without the electric shock)
Abseil down the Humber Bridge or other appropriate Yorkshire Landmark)
Collections at local Yorkshire Football and Rugby Grounds
Creating Children's PJ's or a T-shirt with a percentage of donations going to The Lullaby Trust and the £100k challenge
I'd welcome any and all ideas if you'd like to share yours or if you think you could help organise, sponsor, run or volunteer I'd love to hear from you. Any bloggers wishing to help also would be fabulous I know what a great bunch of people you are and I'd love to work with you to keep this going.
Please share the challenge if you can I need to keep the momentum going for the year and the more people on board the better the response will be.
So I have lots to tell you...
I'll start with my trip to London yesterday to hand over our cheque for the money raised at Alexander's Charity Ball 2014. I went with Louise Barrett who also does great work for The Lullaby Trust as Ian was unable to take the time off from work but also because Louise and I have been working together to see how we can help each other with our events and goals.
Myself and Francine have spoken about where the money was best used and yesterday was an opportunity to chat to all the departments within the Charity to see how these changes could be implemented.
Like anything there are always improvements to be made and it's brilliant the way the team is so focused on making it right and they are open and enthusiastic about listening to parents like us as well. I have to say that it would appear we are all thinking along the same lines anyway but that the main issue for the charity is money. They have to choose wisely where to spend their hard worked for cash and they can't just go ahead and implement everything they want too as it costs!
The £27,203 that was raised with your help is going to help with numerous projects that the charity and I feel are the most important and once we have more of an idea how these will work I will tell you more.
Onto me and my big mouth!!!
September 2015 will be Harrison and Alexander's 10th birthday, double figures and a milestone as far as I'm concerned and so for a while I've been thinking of ways to mark the occasion, by stepping out of my comfort zone and doing something I wouldn't normally do! Anyone that knows me well or otherwise knows I hate running but as the Great North Run falls within September what better way to celebrate the life of my boys than running the most iconic Half Marathon there is!
Sounds simple enough yes? No! This is me we're talking about and so just doing the GNR wasn't enough, I wanted a memorable challenge and so the idea of ''10 fundraisers for 10 years was born''. Over the year from September 2014 to September 2015 I will complete 10 fundraisers (not necessarily sports based) to raise money for The Lullaby Trust, these will include Alexander's Charity Ball 2015 and a bigger 'northern' Mile In Memory plus a list of various other fundraisers that have yet to be decided on.
Also sounds simple enough? Here's the catch ...
Alexander was 17 months old when he died, the usual Safe Sleep messages and most of the preventative measures for SIDS didn't apply to him and as it stands we are no further forward to knowing why he died than we were 7 years ago.
Increasingly there are families of older babies who have died suddenly and unexpectedly contacting the charity for help and so far other than supporting the families there is no further information they can give. Until now. There is research waiting to happen by one of the country's leading paediatric pathologists at Great Ormond Street Hospital into Sudden Unexplained Death in Childhood (SUDC) but he needs funding.
£100,000 worth of funding
I want to do my damnedest to get Professor Sabire this money to get this research from proposal stage into action... I want to raise £100,000
I know I can't do this alone and it is going to be a mountain of work but I am so incredibly excited by this research and the goal is just too tangible not to try. I'm not expecting miracles or answers but just the knowledge that there is someone looking at these deaths means Alexander didn't die in vain.
I need your help in whichever way you think you can help so watch this space for further details on the crazy madcap scheme and help me raise £100k in 1 year. Please share this post as much as you can we need to reach far and wide this time and hopefully the more you share the more people would be willing to help.
...since The Foundation for the Study of Infant Deaths changed their name to The Lullaby Trust.
I believed then that it was the best thing and I still believe now.
The name is easier, it's easier to say and it's most certainly easier to introduce and I love it.
The Lullaby Trust is on a mission to reduce SIDS by half by 2020 and I'm proud to be a supporter of this little known charity. After Easter myself and Lou Barrett will be heading down to London to share our ideas and visions with Francine and the Charity about where the £27,000 you helped me raise is best spent.
This amazing amount of money could do so much but it needs to do the right thing and I'm proud and privileged that I'm allowed to be a part of the vision and given an insight into where this money is best used. Francine and myself have had a quick chat about our ideas and I'm excited about it. My goal has always been to fund research but that's more complicated than it sounds but hopefully when we get our heads together and with your help there is a project just waiting to be funded but it's going to require much more than £27,000.
I shall keep you informed about where we go from here and the changes we hope to implement that will help families broken apart by the loss of a baby but in the meantime
Happy 1st Anniversary The Lullaby Trust
Have a read about my thoughts from last year
Here it is the annual Mr and Mrs photo from Alexander's Charity Ball !!!
What an absolutely perfect night, all that planning and organising comes down to one night, a night that is nerve wracking in the build up but this year I was full of confidence that we would, once again, have a success on our hands.
So we start with room set up and this year we were lucky enough (thankfully) to be able to get into New Dock Hall on Friday to start the massive task of putting on 515 chair covers and bows! Once again this isn't possible without Sam, Karen and their fabulous team at Glamourpuss Weddings along with a little help from the Big Ball Central crew!
Kieron at Giant Events was also hard at work in the room setting up the fabulous Event Books which I have to say added the most unique element to the night, these books are Kieron's baby, designed and built by him they can be personalised perfectly to your event. I loved the turning pages and the fact that the content changed running alongside the event.
Saturday was spent in a haze of balloons and ribbon for perfectionist Sam whilst the rest of us either curled said ribbon, sprinkled table diamonds, lit centrepieces and generally prettied the room whilst lighting, projection and sound engineers worked to make the room glow like the Winter Wonderland we wanted.
I had my orders to be back in the room to brief everyone by 5.45, The Vegas Girls were in position feathers on and sequins glowing, the band was sound checked and the brilliant Ian Royce was all set and ready to go.
The doors were opened, drinks were poured and the the reception was filling up pretty quickly! Flitting in and out of the rooms I did manage to say Hi to a few people although not nearly as many as I would've liked but then the nerves really started to kick in and I found a quiet corner in the main room to take a few breaths. Joined by 'Roycey' we chatted and he really took my mind off things making me laugh and making me swoon by dropping in the fact he'd had an email from Gary Barlow the day before ... Imagine, 'The Captain' actually emailed him !!!
Ian is a genuinely lovely man who, without knowing me, agreed to spare his precious time to host the ball for nothing. It was just a casual mention on twitter that had him doing his damnedest, despite a busy Britain's Got Talent Schedule, to be there for us. I'm so so glad he did what a superb addition to the night he was and his generous donation to the auction saw it raise £4000 as well as another £6000 through our other lots.
Mark Waddington joined us again this year to blow our minds with his Close up magic and he was joined by Marc Lavelle to help him along as the attendance was so big. I know they were a huge hit with those they managed to see judging by the cheers and hollers from around the room!
This year I wanted to add a surprise element to the night with the addition of Singing waiters. Provided by Dave Molloy at Events Line the girls certainly had everyone fooled and had the room up and on their feet during a break in the casino and auction. I'm extremely grateful to Dave for helping us out and if you need to add a surprise element to your event the Singing Waiters are perfect
The Fabulous Vegas Girls were ever present and did a superb job in getting everyone to their casino tables on time, our table was appalling and lost all our cash within 2 spins however our highest rolling table did fabulously and bagged themselves the £500 cash prize. The Vegas Girls are always on duty and professional and I think will be a regular addition to our event from now on, I've seen some brilliant pictures of them with guests and am gutted I didn't take the opportunity to have my picture taken with them. Massive Thanks again to all the girls for their hard work.
And so the night continued with the raffle and Auction led perfectly by 'Roycey' he kept the whole room involved and encouraging lots of bids, we made more on our auction this year than we did at our first event back in 2010! I was left speechless at the amounts and I'd like to say Thank You to everyone who donated an auction lot to us.
During the night I do like to take a moment, stand back and look at what we managed to achieve and it is helped along by a select few. As I do a little wander and try to talk to most tables every year the same people stop me and allow me that time, without them I wouldn't take the chance so Thanks to them.
It was dancing time with the fantastic Vibetown as our band for the night they sang their socks (and our shoes) off, for the rest of the night the dancefloor was jam packed, it was absolutely brilliant and I loved that they were even taking requests at one point due to heckling from the front.
All too soon the DJ was calling time at the bar and the night was drawing to a close the night had gone unbelievably fast, 7 hours had gone in the blink of an eye and all that was left to do was count up to our total.
Alexander's Charity Ball 2014 was a resounding success we raised over £27,000 for The Lullaby Trust but none of it would be possible without the generosity of sponsors and prize donators. The more successful the ball becomes the more we need the help of sponsors. Glamourpuss, Who Ate My Crayons and Giant Events donated their time, expertise and contacts for nothing which allowed the night to grow but we also couldn't put our ideas into practice without the help of our cash sponsors Stephen Crowther Associates, Coda Studios, Bapp Group, IT@Spectrum, Lancaster Property Services and of course New Dock Hall.
Thank You everyone involved in any way you are helping me to create an amazing legacy for my little star, I hope that we are able to continue making Alexander's Charity Ball a success with your help. It's not easy putting myself out there time and again, telling Alexander's story over and over but I know that it is more than worth it for the good it will do and the people it will help through The Lullaby Trust.
Tell me about your night, what you enjoyed, how you felt it went and share your pictures with us over on Facebook
See You Next Year !!!!!
So Saturday came about pretty quickly and everything was quickly being ticked off the to do list, everything that is except the speech! This is the latest I've ever left it and the most nervous I've felt, there would be 515 people in that room and I had to do my best to articulate what I wanted to say without sending people to sleep or choking myself up so much I couldn't speak.
Phew the nerves were bad and the clock was ticking but spending time with the genius that is Ian Royce, our host, before everyone came in eased them a little and he made me laugh a lot, I'd happily spend a whole day in his company just people watching.
So here it is the speech I made on Saturday at Alexander's Charity Ball 2014
Wow! How amazing to see so many of you here for our fourth Alexander's Charity Ball.
New Location which looks stunning, New Charity Name (do we like?) and a New Logo but all for the same fabulous cause as before, the reason hasn't changed.
There are so many people I need to Thank for tonight so here goes...
Thank You to Sam and The Glamourpuss Weddings Team the room looks beautiful. 515 Chair covers and Bows plus 600 balloons is no mean feat I promise no balloons next time, I'll run all bright ideas past you !!!!
Kieron and The Giant Event Management Team. Kieron asked me not to say anything about him in my speech but how could I not? I've never been as calm in the lead up to an event and it's Thanks to you as I know things are in safe hands this year. I think I've spoken to you more this week than I have my own husband.
To all our helpers yesterday and today Thank You and a special Thanks goes to Hayley, Phil and Steph for all their help every year my Big Ball Crew. Special Thanks to Claire and Amy for their hard work with the raffle this year that was a massive job for me previously I know it's not easy to do, I'm glad I didn't have to do it!
Much of what we've achieved tonight isn't possible without sponsorship, we have a few in attendance tonight. A huge Thanks for your generosity and you can find another Thanks in the brochure.
Tonight the CEO from The Lullaby Trust has joined us and it's great to see Francine here so she can see in person how brilliant tonight is and how generous you all are.
I can't forget my boys and Ian Thank You always for your support.
Finally a Thank You to you for coming, buying tickets and making the effort to get here,sometimes against all the odds as the weather has not been on our side this year.
Seven years ago I was planning my son's funeral, something a world away from tonight and something no family should ever ever have to do.
There are no words to describe the pain of losing a child and the devastating effect it has on a family. Tonight is about raising as much as we can to help those families who find themselves in the same sad position we did 7 years ago and with the ongoing hope that one day we can stop SIDS in it's tracks.
Thank You and Have an Amazing Night
Well that's what I wrote and intended to say, much of it I added too and some I changed as I was saying it but that's the general gist of things. It's not easy to stand up in a room full of people ready to party and remind them why they are there, especially when that reason makes your own heart ache on a daily basis.
Shamefully I missed out a public Thank You to Ian Royce who donated his time for nothing to be with us on Saturday and who was brilliant as a host, my cheeks hurt from laughing so much. Ian is a genuinely brilliant, funny and kind person, he surprised us with a very generous addition to our auction which boosted our total to amazing proportions. I've said Thank You numerous times but it doesn't really convey how I feel Ian x
I shall blog about the evening itself this week but I don't need to say how fabulous our total is at £27,203 this will change a little as there is still a bit to come through but I am speechless and there are no words to describe how that makes me feel.
A Huge Thanks to everyone who contributed to our night no matter how small you think it was look what you helped us achieve
That date !
The date permanently in my memory bank, one I will never forget alongside my children's birthdays this date is the date of my son's death.
It's such an insignificant date, nothing important, not to us anyway before 2007.
I can tell you exactly where I was on that date, what I did and when and how that date made me feel. I'd give anything for it to be insignificant again, for it not to be important, for it to be just another day.
In some ways it feels like only days since Alexander died and in others it feels like an eternity we've been without him. I look at how the boys are growing up and I feel cheated for him, what would he be like now?
The date is a hard one What do we do? How do we mark the day? This year as we always try too, we will do something together as a family. Joe has chosen the cinema for us we are off to see The Lego Movie!
I'm thankful for the time I've had with my brilliant boys and the time I will continue to have, there are lots of changes happening within our family as the boys grow and take their exams, look at their future and the careers they'd like and of course Joe starts school in September, the last to go apart from his big brother who will never get the chance.
As the weeks count down to this day it's hard to know the right way to mark it but we take flowers to our darling boy and light candles for him. He is our shining star and has been for 7 years.
7 years ago I remember the lost looks in friends and families eyes as they so desperately wanted to help, to take away the pain not knowing how to express their sadness. Thank You each and every one of you for your support and understanding at that time and since, just being there and letting us talk was enough.
I will love you forever Alexander Robert Richardson, know that you will hold a piece of my heart for eternity. We will never forget you, you are our angel, our star in the sky and I was so privileged to have held your hand on earth for the short time you were here.
... are all I have left and I'm scared that I'm forgetting.
That I can't remember what it felt like to hold him, I don't remember his laugh or the cheeky looks he gave me. Do I only remember what I have captured in my photographs?
As everyone is gearing up to our main event these weeks for me are the hardest to bear. 7 years ago he would have been alive and I would've been spending the last weeks with my boy, if I'd known I would have take a thousand pictures and I would never have left his side.
I can't tell you what we did in those weeks, if I kissed him enough, if I made him laugh, if he knew I loved him. I wish with all my heart I could go back to those weeks and make them unforgettable.
These are the weeks 7 years on that I can feel the lump in my throat, the prick of tears and the ache in my heart are more of a constant than usual. The slightest thing can make them spill over and it hurts so much it's like those early days over again. The days when I thought I'd never smile or laugh again, the days that are as much a blur as the weeks before them but not because they were ordinary but quite the opposite.
It's easy to slip into that dark place, to hide from the world but I have my light, my reasons to go on. I have my boys and the memories we are all making together. In reality we are just a 'normal' family, like any other we pass like ships in the night going to one thing or another but for me that is confirmation that the horror we've endured hasn't affected our ability to function and to live life as we should.
Occasionally I will catch one of the boys, more often Harrison and I will get a stark reminder of all that is missing of everything that has been stolen from us and I wonder how differently we would all be if this hadn't happened to us.
I often get told how amazing we are or how strong but we are neither, to me we made a choice to carry on to live, to keep Alexander's memory alive and to continue making new ones for the boys.
The legacy we are creating reflects this I hope. None of us will forget the bright, lively, cheeky little boy that was with us for only a short while and what better way to remember than having a great night, raising awareness and raising money for the charity that can help.
Happy New Year !!!
So we are just over 5 weeks away and there is still so much to do.
Today's post is a dedicated Thank You to everyone who is helping me get Alexander's Charity Ball 2014 moving.
I've said it before but planning an event such as this is a mammoth task and involves lots of emails, telephone calls, meetings, tweets and Thank You's as well as bank account checking, cheque writing and spreadsheet amending.
This doesn't take into account all the work that everyone else puts in on my behalf and it's to those I'd like to say Thank You too first.
Tia at Who Ate My Crayons who is donating her time free of charge and who has designed our beautiful posters this year but who is also designing our brochures and e-tickets.
Claire, Amy, Peter and Jess who are family but they have done a sterling job on getting us some amazing raffle prizes. Claire and Amy are now working hard to sell raffle tickets as well.
Many Many Thanks to all those businesses who have donated a prize to our raffle and auction, I know many of you get asked on a daily basis for lots of great causes so Thank You for choosing us as being worthy.
Mark Bayley who is my silent hero and an Excel Whizz! He designed a workable spreadsheet for me to use that is all singing and dancing and despite my almost daily emails for amendments and additions still wants to help. It has made things so much easier for me to work everything out and see what is where is fabulous Thank You Mark x
Sam at Glamourpuss Weddings who has been with us right from the start who does a fabulous job of decorating our room it always looks stunning and I can't wait to see what is in store this year. Many Thanks to those of you who have offered your time to help set up on the day of the ball as well, setting up for over 500 people would'v been a massive task for Sam and her team so you will help to take the strain.
Kieron at Giant Event Management who is coming on board officially for the first time this year. Kieron has often given me ideas and advice on a few things for the ball and I was a little daunted at this years numbers but Mr Cool, Calm and Collected is helping me greatly with his contacts and ideas and I know I couldn't have got to where I am this year without him.
Thank You to Dave Molloy at Events Line for offering his time, ideas and entertainment. Dave contacted me through Twitter and has a wealth of experience at these kind of events and has offered what he can free of charge.
Then I come to the sponsors who in austere times have all without fail agreed to donate money to help us pay for our entertainment and lighting etc. This ensures that more of the money you donate actually goes to The Lullaby Trust.
Thank You to our biggest and most generous sponsor Stephen Crowther Associates, our venue hosts and sponsors RAI at New Dock Hall, Leeds. The Award Winning Coda Studios who have been there from the start as sponsors and who support us year on year, IT@Spectrum who instead of sending Christmas Cards in 2013 decided to donate that cash instead to us, Bapp Bolts a local company who agreed without hesitation to sponsor courtesy of Kieron and finally Lancasters Property Services another local company who helps as much as they can and who attend every year.
Finally I'd like to Thank our entertainment for the evening
Yesterday I had some amazing news fro Ian Royce who has agreed to be our host for the night. For those of you who don't know, Ian is the UK's leading Warm Up Artist who is the first choice for Gary Barlow, Robbie Williams, Amanda Holden and many others !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Ian is TV's Mr Warm Up doing XFactor, Britain's Got Talent, Loose Women Children in Need Rocks and most recently hosted the 1D Golden Ticket day in New York. Ian is also supporting Gary Barlow on his tour this year.
I cannot tell you how much it means to have Ian on board using his skills as a host at many celebrity charity balls I know he'll make 2014 a memorable night for you all http://www.ianroyce.com/
Vibetown will be our band for the night, having followed their Facebook and Twitter this year I'm excited about what they have to offer, they sound amazing and I know they are guaranteed to get you on that dancefloor in seconds!
The Vegas Show Girls will be back in 2014 they did such a great job in 2012 only this time there will be a few more of them (and hopefully some gentlemen for us ladies).
Mark Waddington joins us again this year performing his magic and illusion, I had a chuckle to myself last year with all the uproar he caused I knew exactly where he was in the room by the reaction to his tricks and this year he is working the room with a colleague so he can get around you all.
Our photographer is Peter Goldstraw at Capture again for this year, 2013 wasn't the kindest of years for Peter who lost his Step Dad in September. He took some fabulous pictures for 2013's ball and I know he will do the same for 2014.
I'm sure as the next few weeks fly by there will be more people to Thank and add but my last word is for all of you who have bought tickets to attend and whether it's your first time or fourth you make this night the success it's become so Thank You, your support means the world to me (even if I have to chase you for cash every now and then).
Welcome to our blog I will try as regularly as I can to keep you up to date with The Ball, The Charity and any other news !