A family in Leeds who tragically lost their son in March last year are preparing for a Red Tie birthday party, to mark what should have been his fourth birthday and to raise funds for other families affected by child bereavement.
Andrea and John Kerslake’s son Elliot was just two-and-a-half years old when he died suddenly during an afternoon nap in March.
He showed no signs of illness and a cause of death is yet to be determined.
Since Andrea, John and their other two children were unexpectedly hit by tragedy they have been thrust into a system designed to get them through each of the policies and procedures associated with losing a child, but what that system has failed to do for them and many families is to provide adequate and appropriate support.
On the first anniversary of Elliot’s death, the family took the brave decision to launch a charity in his name, and since then Elliot’s Footprint has campaigned for better bereavement support and more joined up services for families in need.
Andrea, from Shadwell, said: “This Red Tie Ball is about celebrating Elliot’s short life by marking his birthday, it’s also a chance to create his legacy. I am haunted daily by the fact that my beautiful little boy will never grow up, when he died my world stopped spinning, and as if that wasn’t bad enough my family and I were left to struggle through the pain alone and fight for every scrap of information. Our experience has made us determined to support families who face similar devastation.”
John Kerslake, Elliot’s Dad: “Elliot was so full of life, he loved the colour red, music, dancing and people so as painful as it is to be marking his birthday without him, we think the Red Tie Ball is a fitting tribute.
Elliot was such a loving, caring little boy and by us putting his name to a charity that will care for others we’re ensuring that his spirit lives on. We’re asking people to help us to do that by joining us at this poignant event.”
The event, which will take place at the Park Plaza Hotel, Leeds, on May 24, is expected to bring together 200 businesses, professionals, friends and family members to raise awareness and funds for the hundreds of families hit by tragic loss every year.
Sarah Roberts, Elliot’s godmother and childminder: “I’ve been shocked by the lack of support offered to the family. Nobody could prepare us for what was about to happen to Elliot, but somebody could have helped us deal with the aftermath. Andrea and John have met with many other grieving families in the region, and they’ve all had very similar experiences of having to face bereavement alone.”
The family are asking for support from businesses to individuals to ensure the evening event is a success and raises funds for this fledgling and vital charity.
People who want to support the event can donate auction items, pledge sponsorship, purchase tickets or help to promote the event.
Tickets are now on sale at www.elliotsfootprint.org/events.