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Louella

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Last year, Jack and Siobhan’s hopes for parenthood were shattered when their daughter Louella suffered significant brain damage.

Heartbroken and far from home, Jack and Siobhan found a place to stay at Cots for Tots House.

We spoke to Jack about his beautiful baby girl, Louella, and how meeting fellow families has inspired lifelong fundraising plans.

“On 18 June 2020, our lives changed dramatically.

After an uncomplicated birth, we met the love of our life: Louella. We spent seven hours with her, blissfully ignorant of what was to come.

But it didn’t last. In what felt like a second, our world was turned upside down. Louella suffered a severe brain haemorrhage.

As staff rallied around, Louella was rushed to Bristol Children’s Hospital. Siobhan and I were left in Taunton, shell-shocked. We were first-time parents. This was meant to be magical.

Jack, Louella’s dad

Louella barely survived the journey to Bristol. She nearly died five times.

The expert team at Bristol Children’s Hospital performed two brain surgeries to control her condition. Louella was suffering from hydrocephalus, which had caused a build-up of fluid on her brain.

Doctors worked tirelessly to save Louella’s life, but she was left with cerebral palsy, vision loss, and ongoing seizures. We couldn’t hide our devastation.

To add to our already desperate situation, Siobhan and I arrived in Bristol with nowhere to stay. The country had been gripped by coronavirus. No hotels were open, and home was miles away. What would we do? Leaving Louella was simply not an option.

We were handed a lifeline by Cots for Tots. This incredible charity gave us a safe place to stay. There was a bed, a TV, a fridge, a kitchen; everything we needed to live day-to-day. Best of all, we were only 30 seconds away from Louella.

Louella was so small and vulnerable. We didn’t want to leave her side for a second. It’s thanks to Cots for Tots, we could be there for the highs and lows.

As amazing as Cots for Tots House was, when we finally made it home with Louella, the feeling was immense.

We don’t know what the future holds for our little girl, but we try not to think that far ahead. We concentrate on making sure Louella is as happy and content as possible. A full-time carer who specialises in the development of babies with cerebral palsy also supports us. Together, we are helping Louella achieve ‘Louella’s potential’.

From our time in Bristol, it was clear we weren’t the only parents relying on the services of Cots for Tots. Each day, we met fellow families who had been thrown into similarly unimaginable circumstances. It was this network of people who were so invaluable to us. They understood. They knew what it was like to wonder if your child would pull through.

Knowing we wanted to support Cots for Tots for the rest of our lives, Siobhan and I committed to raising as much money as we could.

With help from generous family, friends, and even strangers, we have raised £20,000 already. But we’re not stopping there. Siobhan and I are determined to raise £100,000. This incredible sum of money would ensure one family has accommodation for seven years!

My real fundraising challenge will come in August. My brother Lee and I will cycle from the Taunton offices of Cooper Associates Wealth Management, my company, to Vilamoura, in Portugal.

1519 miles and 19,931 metres of ascent through four countries in the August heat. It’s going to be a huge test, but knowing this will help numerous families is all the motivation we will need to get over the line.”

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