Dersingham family’s poignant reason for taking part in King’s Lynn Bubble Rush

“We were in disbelief and absolutely devastated, not understanding how such a beautiful, content, little baby could have so many problems and that there was nothing that could be done to help her. Our whole world had just fallen apart and been shattered. We didn’t know how to go on.”

That was how Karyn Hardy, 27, and husband Daniel, 29, from Dersingham, felt in January 2018 upon hearing the vital organs of their newborn daughter, Mercedes, were shutting down.

Karyn continued: “Mercedes was a beautiful and strong baby. She was very happy, with an angelic smile. She’d light up the room and make everyone smile, and proud.”

Mercedes also had Smith-Lemli-Opitz syndrome, a rare developmental disorder estimated to affect one in 20,000 to 60,000 newborns.

It meant she stayed in the neonatal intensive care unit of Norfolk & Norwich University Hospital. She had cleft lip and palate, and that combined with the syndrome meant she was not allowed to lay on her back as she would have been prevented from breathing properly.

On 11 January, just seven days after she had arrived, Mercedes died. Her family’s New Year, full of double the normal excitement, had flipped upside down in the most tragic of circumstances.

Hairdresser and nail technician Karyn and RAF Marham-based Daniel, though, along with children Alexus, eight, and son Leon, six, who go to Dersingham VA Primary School, are determined to remember Mercedes and honour her memory, and will be taking part in the King’s Lynn Bubble Rush on Sunday, 16 June.

The event is being organised by East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices (EACH). The charity was there for the family in their darkest days and continues to be now, with bereavement groups for them to take part in and counselling for Karyn.

She said: “EACH has made a fantastic and positive impact on our lives. When any positives have been hard to find, the support has been amazing. Both Alexus and Leon really enjoy going to the group sessions. Alexus told us she enjoys the group sessions because the other children who attend understand how she feels and that they have all lost a brother or sister, too. If we didn’t have EACH, I don’t think we’d be able to carry on with our lives. It’d just be one depressive day after another, with no-one to talk to and no support. We’d not know who to turn to or where to get help, and feel very alone and isolated. I believe I wouldn’t want to leave the house or know how to carry on with a normal life.

“EACH gave us the chance to spend a few days with Mercedes after her passing and provided us with Mercedes’ handprint cast, among other things. We also got the chance to go to family events at [EACH’s hospice in] Quidenham and meet other families who’ve gone through the same situation. Andy from EACH produced the hand cast and prints. They’re fantastic and a great memory we’ll be able to keep forever. We got some canvas prints of our hands with Mercedes’ as well, so we’re joined as a family in the canvas forever. All these memories will be with us forever and never leave us.”

The family will be taking part in the Bubble Rush alongside Karyn’s parents, Dawn and Iain, and Daniel’s mum, Kim, and sister, Amy.

“We’re all taking part in the Bubble Rush in memory of our angel Mercedes and to give a massive thank you to EACH for all their support,” said Karyn. “We’re looking forward to it very much as it’ll not only be fun, but also our chance to give something back.”

Bubble Rush is a 5k fun run with a difference as participants head off amongst a sea of bubbles, before passing four bubble stations where cannons pump out foam to create a four-foot (1.2-metre) deep bubble bath!

The event in King’s Lynn, at The Walks, will see runners go off in two waves at 11am and noon. Alongside the course will be lots of merchandise, catering and other amusements, making it a proper family day out.

Tickets are being sold in phases, with prices currently £20 for those aged 16 and over, £9 for children, £55 for families of at least two adults and two children, and £18 per person for teams of six people or more. Those prices will go up to £24, £10, £62 and £22 respectively once 1,000 tickets have been sold. There are currently around 750 people set to soak up the colourful atmosphere.

All entrants will receive a T-shirt and medal. Children aged under four can take part for free. Those aged under 16 must be accompanied by a paying adult.

The Bubble Rush is being sponsored by Vancouver Quarter, with additional support from Bespak, Alive Leisure, Prontaprint and the solicitors Kenneth Bush.

Head to www.each.org.uk/bubblerush for more information. Online registration will close midnight on Thursday, 13 June.

Ridgeons raises tens of thousands for children’s charity

A fantastic two years of fundraising by Ridgeons has resulted in a bumper donation of £51,253.78 to East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices (EACH).

Staff from the builders merchants have taken part in a sponsored leg wax, head shave and skydive, Christmas jumper and dress-down days, running and cycling challenges, held in-store collections, raffles and more.

Some staff also went beyond fundraising by taking part in Bag It, Bring It, Boost It, EACH’s donation drive to boost its shops, and volunteering at EACH events.

Ian Northen, Ridgeons CEO, said: “I just want to say a huge thank you to all our colleagues and customers for helping to support this amazing charity. We’re so proud of the amount we’ve reached and the difference that money will make. We’ve loved every moment fundraising for EACH over the past two years.”

Emily Rose, EACH Corporate Fundraising Assistant, said: “We’re thrilled to have had the support of Ridgeons across East Anglia. They’ve been a fantastic partner to work with and the amazing amount they’ve raised will make such a difference to the families we offer care and support. We’re so grateful to have had such a successful partnership.”

EACH cares for hundreds of children and young people with life-threatening conditions across the region, and supports their families. It costs the charity £16,800 a day to run its service. For more information, go to www.each.org.uk.

New EACH shop coming to Cromer!

East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices (EACH) is excited to announce another new addition to its retail portfolio in Norfolk.

EACH has acquired the former Barclays bank premises in Cromer, at the corner of Tucker Street and Jetty Street, to open on Thursday, 30 May. It will trade seven days a week, offering the same range of high-quality goods customers of EACH’s 14 other Norfolk shops are used to.

Sarah Throssell, EACH Shop Acquisition Manager, said: “We’re delighted plans are now well under way to bring our retail offering to Cromer. We’ll have quite an emporium, with the original banking hall transformed into a ladies fashion floor and the bank manager’s office becoming a dedicated children’s room, decorated with bright beach huts and offering an array of play activities. The customer interview rooms will be a separate menswear department and what was the counting room a large library, and place to sit and relax.

“Taking charge will be Laura Mackay, who comes across from our Fakenham shop having done a fantastic job and helped make that a real part of the community.”

EACH’s retail portfolio is growing at a fast pace, with nine shops having opened last year. This latest one in Cromer will be its third of 2019 and 38th overall.

The charity welcomes donations of the following clean and good-quality goods: clothing, bric-a-brac, modern paperbacks, toys, jewellery, DVDs/CDs, household linens, retro and vintage clothes, and small electrical items. These can be dropped off at the new shop from Monday, 27 May.

EACH also needs donations of good-quality furniture and can collect it free of charge if you are unable to transport it yourself. Call 01842 821620 for more information.

To put into context the difference just a small donation to a shop can make to the vital work EACH does, here are some examples of what your donation could pay for:

–         A top, skirt or pair of trousers worth £5 could pay for art supplies for a session of art therapy

–         A tea set worth £11 could fund an hour of specialist play tailored to a child’s individual needs

–         A nice wedding hat or jacket worth £19 could pay for an hour of vital physiotherapy

–         An item of good-quality furniture or prom dress worth £24 could fund an hour with a psychologist to help guide and support families going through, likely, the toughest period of their lives

In the past financial year, EACH shops generated an impressive profit of over £1.1 million that all went towards helping families make the most of their precious time together.

Anyone interested in more information on volunteering at the new shop can email volunteerservices@each.org.uk or call Sarah on 07540 335680.