"It's not every day you get a letter from the Prime Minister" - 4Louis founder speaks of proud moment she's recognised for her charity work
Almost 10 years since Kirsty McGurrell’s son Louis was still born, the charity she set up in his name has been recognised by the Prime Minister for its commitment to helping bereaved families.
In December 2009, Kirsty and her family were devastated when her first son Louis was still born, but they channelled their grief to support others by creating a charity to provide free memory boxes to hospitals.
What started as a small batch of boxes to be given to Sunderland Royal Hospital has snowballed to become a charity which supports people across the country, supplying boxes to 949 hospitals and units in the UK.
As well as the boxes, the charity has changed the way grief from early deaths is dealt with in hospitals, as well as in national soaps who’ve consulted with Kirsty on how they handle such storylines.
Now, the Newbottle mum has been awarded a Points of Light award by the Prime Minister, which recognises outstanding volunteers who make a difference in their community.
The 30-year-old was presented with the certificate, and a letter from Theresa May, by MP Sharon Hodgson at the charity’s base in Pallion Trading Estate where the boxes are packed with keepsakes.
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“It’s not every day you get a letter from the Prime Minister,” said Kirsty. “It’s so overwhelming to be recognised in this way. When I look back over the ten years it’s amazing to think about what has been achieved in Louis’ name in changing the way grief is dealt with.”
Kirsty, who is also mum to Mitchell, eight, Oskar, six and Daisy-Mae, 19 months, is supported in her charity work by a team of volunteers who pack boxes five days a week.
She says receiving letters and emails from families they’ve helped is what makes their efforts worthwhile.
“You can be having a bad day and not wanting to get out of bed,” she said. “Then you turn on your computer and there’s an email from someone who’s been helped by the boxes and it pushes you on and makes you realise the difference you’re making.”