Leeds family set up charity inspired by loss of son, two

Elliott Kerslake.
Elliott Kerslake.
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A YEAR ago today two-year-old Elliot Kerslake went for his afternoon nap – and never woke up.

Despite the best efforts of his dad John, paramedics and hospital staff, he could not be saved,

His family, from Shadwell, Leeds, are still waiting for an explanation as to why their healthy little boy died so suddenly.

And they are calling for improved bereavement services after having to seek out and arrange support for themselves after their beloved son’s death.

Elliot’s mum Andrea said: “We left hospital and we were given a leaflet.

“The worst thing that could happen to you as a parent had just happened.

“We were left with a very generic leaflet and as soon as we left the hospital, we were on our own.”

Elliot’s death came during a “typical day” when he’d had seemed his usual energetic self.

He had gone for an afternoon nap and was fine when his mum checked him after 30 minutes, but when his older sister Emily went to wake him, she started shouting that something was wrong.

“We phoned an ambulance straight away and I started working on him straight away, with instructions from the ambulance service,” John said.

Paramedics worked on the tot before he was rushed to Leeds General Infirmary.

Andrea, 45, added: “It was within five minutes of getting to the hospital that they said there wasn’t anything else they could do.

“When they said that, the world just stopped around us.”

After returning home, the couple started to look for support for them and their other children Emily, now 14, and Oliver, now 12.

“There’s a massive gap [in help] when a child dies, for some reason,” John said. “The onus was on us to find the support.”

Now the family have set up their own charity, called Elliot’s Footprint, to help other bereaved parents find where to go for help.

“There’s a definite lack of access to good quality bereavement services,” Andrea said.

“It’s about counselling, but also good quality information.”

Her husband added: “It’s doing something in Elliot’s memory, to put a charity in his name to make a positive impact.

“It’s also motivating us to do things really well to help other families.”

Meanwhile, they are still waiting for answers about why their son died.

“Every time the phone rings, we are thinking ‘are we going to find out why Elliot is not with us any more?’,” Andrea said.

** The Kerslake family are determined to ensure help for families who have been bereaved is improved.

Elliot’s Footprint is now a registered charity and aims include creating a protocol for coroners and working with schools.

Elliot’s mum Andrea said: “We know we cannot take away the pain and the devastation of the loss a child, but what we want to do is try to offer a gateway that even if it makes a difference to one family, then that for us is the spirit of Elliot that we are taking forward.” Log on to www.elliotsfootprint.org.

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