A DEVASTATED family today welcomed a charity cash boost which will give support to people who have lost a loved one.
Lynn Carroll said her world was torn apart when 20-year-old son Lewis hanged himself at the family home, in High Barnes, Sunderland.
The 51-year-old admin worker plunged into a seven-month battle with depression before she was put in touch with the Chester-le-Street-based charity If U Care Share.
The charity, which was set up by Shirley and Dean Smith after the death of their son Daniel O’Hare in 2005, today landed a £400,000 windfall from the Big Lottery Fund.
Lynn said: “No-one else could possibly understand what you are going through. You think it couldn’t happen to a normal family – but it does because it happened to us.”
“It’s such a fantastic group and I’m thrilled to bits that they have been awarded such a huge grant from the BLF.”
Lewis, a former Southmoor School, Sunderland, was known as a popular and fun-loving lad, and described by his parents as “a handsome, intelligent young man who was well-liked”.
But the Nissan apprentice technician’s suicide in September 2010 left his loved ones distraught.
Speaking for the first time about the tragedy, Lynn said his death came without warning, devastating his family and friends.
She said: “Our whole world collapsed. It was devastating, unreal, a nightmare.
“He had left a note explaining that he loved us all very much, but thought he was a burden and that we’d be better without him.
“It didn’t make any sense – we were as close as any mum and son could be.”
It was bus driver dad Billy, 48, who discovered Lewis’s body at home.
Lynn added: “It was a Saturday and just like any normal day. Lewis seemed full of beans and dropped his dad off at the local social club to meet me.
“Billy and I came home at about 11.30pm and I remember thinking I had to put together Lewis’s lunch as he had work the next day. Billy was the first one in the house and the first to see Lewis.”
With the help of counsellors and If U Care Share, Lynn, Billy and daughter Hayley, 25, are slowly coming to terms with the loss, more than two years on.
Lynn said: “I began having counselling and was told about If U Care Share. Speaking to someone who has gone through the same thing, made such a difference.”
The charity will use the funding to develop a network of “buddies” to support families as they approach key dates in their bereavement, such as birthdays, Christmas and anniversaries.
Young people will also be offered special counselling sessions, arts and sports activities, and mental health workshops.
“My family, friends, work colleagues and I began fundraising for the charity after we became aware of their amazing work,” added Lynn. “We did the Great North Run, the Sunderland City 10k, raffles, a boxing night, charity evenings.
“I even did a tandem skydive. We’ve raised something approaching £10,000 now.”