COLUMN: Lottieboxes will help spread Christmas cheer

As some of you readers will know, in April 2012 my daughter, Charlotte went to bed a happy, healthy seven-year-old girl in my bed after a girly night of take-away, sweets and a DVD to bring the Easter holidays to a close.

Unfortunately that was the last time I would see her like that as during the night she suffered a brain haemorrhage brought on by the rupturing of an aneurysm which had been building up in the back of her brain for seven years, completely unbeknown to any of us.

Charlotte was in a coma and was transferred to Leeds General Infirmary to be cared for by a leading team of specialists and underwent lifesaving surgeries to stop the bleeding and pack the aneurysm.

Just as things looked promising, Charlotte unfortunately deteriorated quickly and suffered a series of strokes due to the bleeding in her brain and which caused significant damage to a large area of her brain.

For a time, Charlotte was in a locked-in state where she would just lay in bed unable to move, unable to blink or swallow, was being fed through a tube and most gut wrenching for me, had absolutely no clue who I was and couldn’t look at me, speak to me or cuddle me and I was told that this was the best we could hope for.

For those of you who see Charlotte today, you probably find this description of what happened to be difficult to fathom as to all intents and purposes, Charlotte has made herself look like every other child.

The reality however is quite different.

Charlotte has lost 75% of her sight, has right-sided weakness and pronounced learning difficulties across every area meaning she needs a lot of support to get through a day.

Just a few hours at school is enough to completely drain Charlotte for the rest of the day and as a result of the effort it takes her to put a smile on her face and attend school, she spends most of her time in bed, in pain and absolutely exhausted.

We set up an organisation which aims to highlight childhood strokes and acquired brain injury and their effects along with The Stroke Association, The Children’s Trust and Child Brain Injury Trust and to provide a good quality of life to Charlotte through necessary equipment, services, etc. and run various events throughout the year. Because of the enormous amount of support we have received over the past 18 months, we felt that this Christmas would be a good time to give something back and try to help other families going through a similar situation.

The desperation, anger, guilt and stress which I felt at that time can only be magnified at Christmas and this is what inspired the Lottiebox Appeal.

A Lottiebox is a shoebox filled with as many goodies and treats as possible to be given to children and their families in hospital suffering with a brain injury/condition this Christmas. We are asking for new toys, crayons/colouring pencils, bath and shower goodies, etc.

Anything you can think of which would fit in a shoebox and would be appropriate.

Lottie’s Army will then deliver these to children and their families who really need to know that someone is thinking of them and sending them positivity and strength as it really does make a massive difference.

Ideally we would like to deliver your Lottieboxes to the children at Leeds General Infirmary, Airedale Hospital and the children at The Children’s Trust in Tadworth. However the more donations we get, the more children we can make smile.

If any of you come across any three for two offers or buy one get one free offers while you’re out doing your Christmas shopping, please could you remember Lottiebox and donate your free item to our appeal?

We have drop off points in Trawden, Colne, Nelson, Burnley, Accrington, Haslingden and Oldham with more locations being added every day.

The closing date for donations is Sunday, December 15th which will give us time to sort the boxes into age and gender appropriate gifts and distribute them to as many families as possible.

One of Charlotte’s favourite things is to make other people smile and has been since she was a baby so she is absolutely loving seeing everyone being so supportive and getting behind us so on her behalf, and behalf of her very own army, thank you all so much for your generosity and kindness. It makes a huge difference to know we’re not alone.

For more information or to get in touch, please look at www.lottiebox.co.uk, ‘like’ our Facebook page by searching for Lottie Box or contact me on Twitter @leilaneve