A Warwick mum who created a charity in memory of her daughter has been comforted knowing that four years on her daughter has created a “powerful legacy”.
Wednesday (September 13) marked the fourth anniversary since seven-year-old Evelyn Smith died from Bacterial Tracheitis.
Helen Smith, Evelyn’s mum, said: “My family and I have found it very difficult to deal with the impact of Evelyn’s death because it was so sudden. Coping with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, whilst also campaigning to obtain the true facts about Evelyn’s death, has only been possible for me because of the positive work of Evelyn’s Gift and Warwickshire Hearts.”
Helen created Evelyn’s Gift in memory of her daughter, which aims to train as many people as possible in CPR and lifesaving and to provide little acts of kindness.
Since the charity started it has gone from strength to strength by helping those in need.
Helen said: “The charity has grown because of the tremendous support of so many people in our local community and further afield.
“Together with Nick Shacklock and Paul Rowlands from Warwick District Community First Responders and Tim Morris from Waterside Medical Centre, we started the Warwickshire Hearts project and trained thousands of local people in CPR and the use of defibrillators.
“This project was so successful that Warwickshire Hearts has now been registered as a separate charity, chaired by Nick Shacklock, and which incorporates the CPR/AED training and the volunteer 999 community response team for the ambulance service know as First Responders.
“We are busy working on the official launch of the new charity next month on this year’s Restart a Heart Day on October 16 when Warwickshire Hearts will be training about 1000 people in one day. Other courses are available to the public at www.warwickshirehearts.org .
“I would urge anyone that has not been trained to book a place or for enquiries email firstname.lastname@example.org. I know that I did everything that I could for Evelyn because I had received training on a number of occasions in my lifetime. I would have found it difficult to live with if I had not tried to save her.”
Over the years the charity has helped various people, groups and organisations with acts of kindness.
Helen said: “Many people have been reached since our launch through a very diverse range of projects, all with the philosophy of acts of kindness.
“We have worked regularly with homeless shelters at Leamington Night Shelter, Radford Road, and LWS Shelter at the Priors Club. We contribute to their remarkable work by donating toiletries and underwear and we purchase from a charity called In Kind Direct, wherever possible, so that our funds go further. We have also provided household items and toiletries to Helping Hands, along with Easter treats for children.
“We purchased items needed by the Safeline for a child therapy room and donated colouring packs for child visitors and a TV for Myton Hospices
“We have produced bereavement resource packs with guidance from bereavement charity Guy’s Gift for primary schools in Warwick, which were funded by Warwick Court Leet. We intend to roll this out to schools in Leamington. We have also provided bereavement funding on several occasions through funeral directors for silver fingerprint jewellery when a young person has died and we have helped a family with deposit so that funeral arrangements could be made.
“We have donated watering cans to Warwick Cemetery in Evelyn’s memory to help people to tend graves of their loved ones.
“We have undertaken major gardening projects at Myton School, St Michael’s Hospital and a Turning Point Residential home in Sydenham.
“Thanks to a huge team and part funding from Jaguar Land Rover and staff and FOMS volunteers at Myton Schools, there is now a large wildlife pond with a stream, an allotment and a decked area. This will allow young people to learn in a different environment from a traditional classroom setting.
“The Mayor of Warwick 2015-16, Mandy Littlejohn, raised funds and worked with us to develop a family room and garden at St Michael’s hospital. We then returned later to improve other gardens on the site with another team from Jaguar Land Rover. We have had very positive feedback about the impact of these improvements on psychiatric patients and we will be working on the area around the chapel shortly.
“The garden at Turning point in Marloes Walk was renovated in memory of resident, Laura Dillon, with a team from IBM. Laura sadly passed away in January and her mum, Sue Jackson, raised a large proportion of the funds for a garden in her daughter’s memory. We were delighted that we could realise her concept of Laura’s Wishing Well Garden.
“Sue, Evelyn’s Gift and IBM are continuing to work with the home so that we can provide an artificial turf area for better wheelchair access.
“Working with Warwick Lions club and triplets Loren, Hannah and Tom Fardoe as part of their D of E award, we held a Community Afternoon Tea for elderly people.
“The event was held at the stunning Lord Leycester Hospital Great Hall and attended by the Mayor of Warwick Stephen Cross and Warwick and Leamington MP Matt Western. Nick and Sally Shacklock from Warwickshire Hearts provided First aid cover and our guests had a very enjoyable afternoon, with plenty of lovely food and entertainment.
“There are so many projects that it is not possible to cover them all or to thank everyone involved.
“Some of those that have helped us to achieve wonderful things include: Warwick CFRs, Tim Morris, Warwick Arms Hotel, Kate Cleary at Ostrich Pink, fundraisers Sue Jackson, Garry Swinburn and Martin Pepper, Wellesbourne and Warwick Lions Clubs, the Fardoe family, Lord Leycester Hospital, IBM, Jaguar Land Rover, Bravissimo, Warwickshire College, John Taylor Funeral Service, Mayors Mandy Littlejohn, Christine Cross and Stephen Cross, Warwick Town Crier, Coten End Primary School, Warwick and Kenilworth Rotary Clubs, Warwick Court Leet and lots of kind individuals.
“I believe that Evelyn’s life has inspired people to do many good things and it is comforting to know that she has left such a powerful legacy.
“We will be asking everyone to do an act of kindness in her memory on her birthday on 1st December, no matter how small, to make the world a better place.”