'We're not going to stop': Family at burglary-hit Leeds bereavement charity vow to keep vital work going

"We're not going to let it keep us down - we're not that kind of family."

Saturday, 7th December 2019, 6:00 am
Carrie-Ann Curtis with Ruth Curtis, Clive key, Sam Key, and Chloe Hill in the counselling room named after Charlie.

That was the defiant call from the co-founder of a family-run bereavement service that was broken into.

Staff at Charlie's Angel Foundation were left devastated after thieves broke in through a window and stole four tablets, a smart TV, and XBox and even children's games.

Vital counselling appointments have had to be cancelled and the clean-up operation is still underway.

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Carrie-Ann Curtis, centre, with Chloe Hill, Ruth Curtis, Sam Key and Clive Key at the Charlie's Angels Centre Foundation.

The service, based in Parkside Lane in south Leeds - provide free services for anyone affected by the death of a child of any age and for any reason, including stillbirth, termination, accidental, violent or suicidal death and death following acute or chronic illness.

It is named after Charlie, the son of Carrie-Ann Curtis, who was born on December 29, 2012, who died after being born with a rare disorder called Potter's Syndrome

Carrie's step-mum Ruth Curtis, a co-founder of the organisation, said: "I just couldn't believe it that someone could go so low as to break in to a bereavement charity. It is very obvious what we do."

Counselling rooms are dedicated to babies who have passed - including Charlie - but the heartless criminals turned their photos face down in each room.

"You don't do that," added Mrs Curtis, 52. "The centre has been Charlie's legacy. It is so disrespectful

"It's taken us six years to get to the point of having the bereavement centre.

"People have raised money for us and it's just awful to think that other people think they can help themselves.

"I would like them to realise the impact that it has had on not just us, but the families we support. It's affected the whole community."

Families come from as far afield as York and Barnsley for counselling.

Four sessions and a community support group have had to be cancelled after the break-in, which happened just before 10pm on Wednesday, and one woman was in tears.

"We've all had a good cry to be honest," added Mrs Curtis, who lives in Yeadon. "What they have taken is insignificant compared to taking away our service for a while - families that needed to come, couldn't."

Mrs Curtis hopes the centre will be fully back up and running next week.

"We are not going to let it keep us down - we are not that kind of family. We are determined and resilient."

She thanked the centre's many supporters and said they had been deluged with offers of donations and help to repair the building.

"The support we've been given has made us think 'we can do this'," Mrs Curtis added. "It doesn't matter what they throw at us, we are going to keep going."

An online fundraising page has also been set up for anyone who wants to support the centre.Charlie's Christmas Memorial Service, where 'angel babies and children' are honoured, is taking place at St Cross Church in Middleton on Tuesday December 10, 7pm - 8.30pm. Doors open at 6.30pm.

Anyone with information about the break-in should contact West Yorkshire Police, quoting crime reference number 13190623245.