Keech and Harry stars of BBC Children in Need

A Bedfordshire school boy who worried about his little sister dying and the hospice which helped him have become the stars of BBC Children in Needs TV appeal programme.

Harry Mathias, 7, from Marston Moretaine received pre-bereavement support from Keech Hospice Care in Luton to help him come to terms with his sister Sophie’s, 5, life-limiting illness.  

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Harry’s mum, Kelly said the help Keech Hospice Care has given Harry is life changing.

“A couple of children who Harry was close to at Keech Hospice Care died within a few months of each other and Harry suddenly started becoming very worried about Sophie. It's like something clicked and he realised how fragile Sophie is. Harry was asking questions about death and dying and I was concerned about not answering them properly. Harry was bottling up his worries as he didn't want to upset us with them.”

Sophie has Down's Syndrome, is blind and suffers with chronic lung disease and severe epilepsy which has caused her many additional health problems.

Natalie Watson, whose position of Bereavement Support Worker at Keech Hospice Care is funded by BBC Children in Need money for two years helped Harry overcome his worries.

“Harry’s very bright and energetic. He loves his family very much. Children can struggle to manage their feelings and pre-bereavement support can help people to cope better and feel more prepared with the death and dying of their loved one, when that sad time does come.

“Over a few months, Harry and I explored topics such as family, feelings, worries and memories not only here at the hospice itself but, to start with, I visited Harry at his school.

“Children tend not to have the words to describe how they’re feeling so it’s important to offer them different ways and Harry benefitted from creatively exploring his worries and was able to leave them behind. Harry also created a memory jar which helped him to share some very happy and difficult memories of his sister Sophie.”

Image 2Harry, who continues to attend Keech Hospice Care’s Sparklers group, which allows him to socialise with other children in similar situations to him, said his worries have gone.

“I was worried about Sophie and some things but I'm not worried about them anymore because Natalie’s helped me get rid of them. I was worried about hearing bad things about Sophie and not understanding what was going on. I just wanted my family to be ok. 

“I feel more relaxed and my memory jar helps me remember stuff in the past and keeps me happy because I like remembering fun memories and good times. 

“Sophie means a lot to me and Natalie means a lot to me. Natalie is very helpful and she made me feel confident.”

For interviews please contact Lorna Chinnock, Head of Communications and Marketing at Keech Hospice Care on 01582 497874 / 0779 549 8591 or at lchinnock@keech.org.uk.