A decade ago, Leeds-mum Anne Cameron lost her son Ricky just four weeks before his 17th birthday. Here she talks about grieving, raising money for charity and the 'fun day' to mark the 10th anniversary of his death
“As a mother you are kind of living in your own little bubble where you and the world are moving on, but you are just drawn back to a time where your child is, just that, still a child.”
Anne Cameron’s son, Ricky Nugent, was just four weeks shy of his 17th birthday when he suffered a brain haemorrhage while playing rugby. Despite efforts to save him, he never regained consciousness.
His death left his mother, Anne Cameron, from Farnley, and her family in shock. Ricky was a promising young man who attended Farnley High School (now Farnley Academy) before enrolling on an electrical installation course at Park Lane College.
He showed a passion for rugby from a young age, playing union at first but later transferring to league. It was during an away match at Shaw Cross, Dewsbury, when he suffered a fatal haemorrhage in his brain stem.
Anne says the pain of her loss will never be gone.
“It is the strangest thing and something probably only a grieving parent would understand. It’s like living two parallel lives and very difficult,” explains mother-of-two and grandmother-of-four Anne, whose daughters, Linsey, 43, and Kelly, 39, were also devastated by their death of their little brother.
“They both still struggle to come to terms with his loss, it’s very hard for them and I can’t help them with that, I lost my son, but they lost their little brother who they both adored. I think about him every day, I still have bad days. Sundays in particular are bad. That was the day he went out to play rugby and never came home. We weren’t at the match, it was an away match. If it had been at home I would have probably been there but at the time we had no car available and there was no other way of getting there. By the time we got to see him, he was laid on the pitch, convulsing.
“One of the hardest things is people say you have to move on and I understand that but at the same time, Ricky can’t move on. When I see a lot of his friends or people the same age, they have kids now, they’re in relationships and have jobs. I don’t know what Ricky would have been doing but I know he would have been in work, because he had just started at Park Lane College on an electrical installation course. He worked part time on a weekend to get some pocket money. He was a good kid. He never caused us a minute’s trouble.”
In the wake of her son’s death, Anne, who is married to Ricky’s step-father Alistair, decided to stage an event to raise money for the brain injury charity Headway.
Their first event raised several thousand pounds and was attended by the Lord Mayor of Leeds. Although she didn’t know it at the time, it was the beginning of a decade of fundraising, which has seen £38,000 go to good causes. Now she wants to mark the 10th anniversary of her son’s death with an event to remember.
“I’ve had the last two years off fundraising,” says Anne, 64, who is semi-retired. “I just needed some ‘me’ time, because for the last eight years, since Ricky died, that’s all we’ve done. It’s very worthwhile but it’s a lot of work and organising. With the 10th anniversary coming up, I wanted to do something special and so we’re holding an event.”
Who did she raise money for?
This time the money will go to the neurosurgical ICU at Leeds General Infirmary, which is where Ricky spent the last hours of his life after initially being admitted to Dewsbury District Hospital.
Anne says: “Ricky never regained consciousness after he collapsed. He was taken to Dewsbury on the Sunday and later went to the ICU at LGI. I think they knew then there was never going to be any response. On the Tuesday, we had to turn his life support machine off.
“So, even if the money we raise pays for free teas and coffees for those visiting the ward, I just think how many hundreds of people will have been in that room in the same situation we were in 10 years ago. I just cannot let this anniversary go without marking it in some way. I thought what better way to do that than to have an event and raise some money.”
In the past, people have rallied to the cause, raising money by taking part in parachute jumps, bike rides from Leeds to Buckinghamshire and along the length of the Leeds Liverpool Canal.
What is happening now?
As the 10th anniversary of Ricky’s death approaches in September, Anne is planning a major fundraising event. The Ricky Nugent 10 Year Anniversary Day will take place on Sunday September 8 at West Leeds RUFC, Blue Hill Lane, LS12 4NZ. Anne is on the lookout for anyone who might be able to assist in offering prizes and other donations to help with the fundraising effort. There will be dance troupes, face painting, prize bingo, tombola and raffle. If you would like, contact her on the numbers above.
Contact Anne & Alistair on email@example.com, Anne 07861774274 and Donna Copland (Anne’s ‘Lady Friday’) 07962228384