It has been just over three years since we started Fletcher’s Fund and so much has happened since then. Time has just flown by. Our charity might be small, but we’ve got a big heart and although we can get overlooked in favour of larger charities, we are so lucky to have the support from our followers and those who have made donations.
Each and every family we manage to help while they are going through the unimaginable is a little victory for Fletcher’s Fund.
Since we were featured on the You, Me and the Big C podcast in in July, we have welcomed quite a few new followers. This is something we are so grateful for. With this in mind, I thought it might be a good time to look back at where we’ve come from and let our new supporters know how we started and why we do what we do.
In January 2016 Fletcher started to present with unusual symptoms. We now know that white, chalky stools should be treated as a medical emergency in babies, but we didn’t know this at the time and Fletcher didn’t seem that poorly. To make matters worse, the numerous medical professionals we took him to were equally in the dark.
Nobody realised quite how serious things were.
It was only when Fletcher started to show signs of jaundice a couple of weeks later, that the long road to a diagnosis began. I use the term diagnosis loosely because, even now, we don’t know exactly what type of cancer Fletcher had.
We knew, at this point, that it was in his liver but without a diagnosis of primary liver cancer, choosing the correct treatment was not straightforward for the specialists.
Even though we were living under a cloud of such uncertainty, we became familiar with life as an oncology family and our little boy embarked on his treatment programme, which began in February 2016.
In July 2016 we were so relieved that Fletcher seemed to be in remission, and we enjoyed a two-month treatment break with holidays and making precious memories on family days out.
In September of that year Fletch stopped walking suddenly and we were admitted back to Leeds Children’s Hospital, which is where we stayed until February 2017.
Leeds became our temporary home and Fletcher’s little brother, Cooper, was born in at the LGI at Christmas time.
The staff on the ward at Leeds were absolutely amazing and we completely fell in love with them, and they with Fletcher. His smile and laughter made him the centre of attention on the ward and he LOVED it! He had the staff absolutely wrapped around his tiny little finger.
We managed a brief time at home in February 2017 before Fletcher relapsed again in March. We had never seen him so poorly, weak and tired. It became clear that the treatment options had run out for our baby boy. We had to make the devastating decision to move him to Jigsaw Children’s Hospice in Carlisle.
The staff at the hospice were absolute angels and made the most difficult, unimaginable time as bearable as it possibly could have been. On 15th March 2017, just one month shy of his 2nd birthday, Fletcher died in his sleep in my arms.
He is remembered, talked about, and loved fiercely, in everything we do and with everything we have.
A little light in the darkness
The charity was set up on 11th May 2017 and in the first year alone we made 23 grants to eligible families in need of support. We also set up the Bags of Fun project and rolled it out in Newcastle and Leeds.
In the second year of the project, we expanded to Manchester with the craft bags and we introduced the teenage bags for the first time.
We made 44 grants in year 2 and a whopping 130 in year 3.
We now have our very own office where we can sort our donated materials more effectively and we also managed to achieve Scottish registration in March 2020.
We are so pleased that we have been able to make 197 grants since we started and donate 2000 craft bags. As we move into our fourth year, we will be looking to expand into more hospitals and boost our fundraising and charitable work.
All the work we have done so far equates to around £41,000 in charitable giving. We have also been able to give away superhero capes to the radiology department in Leeds and we have rolled out a ward hints and tips brochure for newly-diagnosed families in Leeds.