Caring Peterlee gran’s help for bereaved families

Carol Ellwood
Carol Ellwood
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A LOVING gran whose granddaughter died at the age of two is launching a support group in a bid to help other bereaved families.

Little Amy Dale, who suffered severe health problems including cerebral palsy, fluid on the brain as well as walking and hearing difficulties after being born with septicaemia, died earlier this year after “complications” during hospital treatment.

Her gran Carol Ellwood looked after Amy while also caring for her daughter, Amy’s 25-year-old mum Stacey, who suffers from mental health problems.

Now Carol, whose partner James Holcroft, 42, was diagnosed with testicular cancer last year, is getting help to set up a support group.

Backed by Abby Thompson, voluntary development manager at East Durham Trust, they will hold an initial session with a view to gauging how much interest there is before holding more in the future.

The group is open to anyone who has suffered loss of a loved one, whether through death, divorce or separation.

“When I hear about other people’s problems, it helps because then I know I’m not the only one with problems,” she said.

“Sometimes you just feel alone.”

Carol is also grandmother to Kyle Mitchell, 11, Steven Mitchell, eight, Liam Mitchell, seven, who also suffers from cerebral palsy and has fluid on the brain, Jaydon Burton, two, and one-year-old Cieanna Hockaday.

“It’s not just for bereavement,” she said. “I’ve got counselling, but there isn’t really much help for others in the east Durham area.”

Carol, of Fairbairn Road, Peterlee, lost her parents Margaret and Tommy Ellwood to emphysema 10 years and two years ago respectively.

“I want to set a group up so we can all talk,” she said. “I love being a nana, I love being a mum, but I also love being a friend.”

The 46-year-old said Amy had endured 16 operations and was treated at hospitals as far away as Liverpool’s Alder Hay for cranial operations.

The gran said she had resuscitated Amy when she almost died when she was just seven days old.

The youngster died at the Great North Children’s Hospital, in Newcastle, on April 4.

Carol, who is also mum to Craig Mitchell, 28, and Zoe Ellwood, 23, gains comfort from a giant teddy bear which contains Amy’s ashes.

She said: “Amy’s death has left a gaping hole. She was bright, happy and bubbly with an infectious laugh, everybody just fell in love with her.

“I was her full-time carer as her mother is disabled.

“None of us is coping. That’s why I want to help other people.”

The meeting will be held from 10am to noon on Wednesday, November 2, at the Edenhill and Chapel Hill Residents’ Association, 26 Crawford Avenue, Peterlee.

For more information, call 07880 954966.

Twitter: @SunderlandEcho