A Rugby woman who has used a family tragedy as inspiration to help hundreds of other families across Warwickshire has been recognised by Wasps for her work.
Charlotte Jolliffe experienced every parent’s worst nightmare in December 2014 when her 13- month-old son Freddie sadly passed away following a road traffic accident on the M6.
In the weeks after the accident, Charlotte sought specialist bereavement support but could not find any suitable service, which led to her launching her own charity in early 2015, called Freddie’s Wish.
Freddie’s Wish, which is run by Charlotte alongside her day job as a mental health and bereavement instructor, provides access to bereavement support for those who have lost a baby or child, as well as paediatric first aid training.
The charity has funded the training of more than 750 people in paediatric first aid, with training delivered by MDD First Aid, and has created an ongoing bereavement support service for any adult who has lost a baby or child from the moment of conception to the age of 25, which is delivered in partnership with Child Bereavement UK.
The charity has also trained 50 schools across Warwickshire in bereavement support, also in partnership with Child Bereavement UK.
Since establishing the charity, Charlotte has raised approximately £160,000 so that Freddie’s Wish can provide practical support and funding for those who have lost a child in Warwickshire.
Charlotte’s efforts prompted her father, and Wasps fan, Steve Jolliffe, to nominate her for the Wasps Community Hero Awards, in association with Wasps Partner, Hannafin Contractors.
The Awards aim to recognise and reward people that have made a significant difference in their local community.
Charlotte said: “Freddie was everything I could have wished for and when he passed away, as a family we were absolutely devastated.
“I was experiencing this deep and intense pain and felt so lonely - I just wanted to talk to others who had gone through what I was going through, but found nothing.
“That’s when I had a lightbulb moment and knew there was a gap here that needed filling to not only build a legacy for Freddie, but to try and ensure that anyone else out there who is struggling with the loss of a loved one knows that they’re not alone.
“The paediatric first aid service that we offer is really significant for us. Freddie’s dad administered CPR on him at the scene of the accident, and while it didn’t save his life, it gave him a fighting chance and enabled me to get to the hospital to say goodbye to him before he passed away - proof to me that doing something in an emergency situation is better than doing nothing.”
Like all charities, Freddie’s Wish has seen a dip in fundraising during the Coronavirus pandemic, but Charlotte says that her loyal supporters have found ways of continuing their support.
“It costs us around £20,000 a year to run both of our services and we rely purely on public donations, which have still been coming into us during lockdown. We’ve had people donating money that they would have spent on their daily commute or coffee, which has been fantastic.
“It fills me with pride to see how Freddie’s Wish has grown from an idea in my mind to the sheer number of people it has helped - and I’d like to thank both my dad for nominating me and for Wasps for picking me as their community hero winner.”
To recognise Charlotte for her efforts in the community, Hannafin Contractors will provide Charlotte with hospitality at an upcoming Wasps home match at Ricoh Arena, a signed shirt and personal video message from a first-team Wasps player.
Adam Benson, Chief Commercial Officer at Wasps, said: “Charlotte’s story and desire to help other people amid her own personal struggle really blew us away, and she is more than worthy of being named as one of our community heroes.
“We look forward to welcoming her to the Ricoh Arena in the near future to recognise her for the difference that she is making to those in need.”
For more information about Freddie’s Wish, visit www.freddieswish.org