Teenager’s big-hearted gesture after losing mum to cancer

Aimee Jennings,  who is fund raising foir St. Benedicts Hospice, Ryhope.

Aimee Jennings, who is fund raising foir St. Benedicts Hospice, Ryhope.

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A TEENAGER left devastated by the death of her mum at just 37 is channelling her grief to help others.

Angela Jennings’ family were left heartbroken when her life was cut tragically short by bowel cancer in October last year.

But the Washington mum-of-four’s compassion for others lives on in her children, especially eldest daughter Aimee, 19, who has thrown herself into a fund-raising drive in memory of her beloved mum.

As well as taking on the mother role for younger siblings Daniel, 16, Bethanie, 10 and Dylan, five, Aimee volunteers at the Sunderland hospice which cared for her mum in her dying days, and is helping to raise funds for future patients.

The teenager, who helps dad Stephen, 38, to care for her brothers and sister, says St Benedict’s Hospice, in Ryhope, provided invaluable support at the toughest time of the family’s lives.

Aimee said: “Over the course of her treatment mam would use the daycare facility every now and then. We didn’t realise that her last week there would be her last.

“The staff there made such a difference. They would give her makeovers to boost her spirits and she had round-the-clock care and they managed her pain medication really well.”

Doctors at the QE hospital, in Gateshead, attempted to shrink the tumour in Angela’s bowel, which was diagnosed in May 2013. But it was so far advanced that they were unable to rid the Sulgrave mum’s body of the disease.

Aimee, who works at New World Nursery in Concord, said: “She’d had some sharp pains in her stomach before she was diagnosed but we never thought it would be anything like that.

“She’d just gone back to work at Sunderland Royal Hospital as a care worker, after having my little brother, when she got ill.”

She added: “Volunteering at the hospice and fund-raising has been a massive help. When I stop and think about things, that’s when I get upset. Mam always wanted me to be productive. She was such a family-orientated person and everything she did had to involve children, which is why we are making sure the fund-raising includes them.”

The family treasured their final months together. So much so, that Angela and Stephen renewed their vows on their 17th wedding anniversary in June last year, something they had planned to do in their 20th year of marriage, so their children could share in their special day.

Tomorrow, Aimee and her family are hosting a fund-raising evening from 7pm at the White House Social Club, Blackfell.

Entry is free and the night will feature a local dance group, singer, face painting, characters from Frozen, a raffle and tombola.

As an added bonus to boost the funds, Carcraft in Birtley, where Aimee’s dad and grandmother, Lynda George, have both worked, has agreed to match the money raised on the night.

Colin Houlihan, CEO at Carcraft adds: “We were all so inspired to hear about Aimee’s fund-raising, thanks to her grandmother Lynda George who has worked for us for five years. We think she deserves a bit of support and feel privileged to be able to help her and this fantastic hospice, which provides comfort and support to so many people when they most need it.”

Aimee and her family started fund-raising back in June 2013 to help pay for holidays for their mum during her illness, and home adaptations needed to make her life more comfortable.

The mum’s death didn’t halt the family in their fund-raising. For Angela’s funeral, Aimee and little sister Bethanie made blue loom bands for everyone to wear to help raise awareness of the condition.

Also by requesting donations rather than flowers, they were able to donate £1,800 from the funeral to St Benedict’s Hospice.