Many of you will have already read about little Layton Boys-Hope, in my earlier blog posts. I don't propose to dwell upon those, nor, given the nature of this post, will I be linking to them. For those who aren’t familiar with Layton or his family, Layton passed away, tragically, at a little over a year old, after contracting sepsis. This is about an ordinary family, in extraordinary circumstances, and their fight to keep the memory of their son alive. Like many of you, I am a parent, and cannot begin to imagine the agony of losing a child.
Recently, Thomson Holidays launched a competition to name an aircraft, and so when Dave, Layton’s Dad, tweeted that he had proposed Layton's name for the plane, it was a cause I was more than happy to champion. Which got me thinking... Whilst, of course, I am happy to promote it on Twitter, I thought perhaps people may like to know a little more about the family, and the little boy who I was asking them to retweet and vote for.
I approached Nichol and Dave, and asked if they would be interested in doing an interview for the blog. I am incredibly grateful that they agreed, and it is an honour and a privilege to share it with you.
Firstly, tell us a little about yourself and your family
I am David Hope from Sunderland Tyne & Wear, in the United Kingdom and my partner is Nichol. We have been together for 13 amazing years. I am a fully trained Telecoms technician, and Nichol is a stay at home mam. We have 6 amazing children 3 girls and 3 boys but unfortunately one of the boys, called Layton, sadly grew his wings and is now an angel.
You lost your little boy, Layton, tragically, to sepsis. Can you tell us how he contracted this disease?
Layton tragically left us in February of this year from sepsis, with chickenpox being a contributory factor as the cause. He had contracted chickenpox five days earlier and as many parents we just thought that it was a normal childhood illness, which every child gets, so it did not concern us as his older brother had also had them the week before.
On Sunday the 8th of February, Layton woke us up on the morning, appearing to be back to his normal cheeky little self, then things took a turn for the worse, and so we took him to the hospital where he underwent a number of tests, but sadly passed away in the early hours of Monday morning.
How old was Layton when he passed away?
Layton was 13 months old when he passed away, he had just had his 1st birthday on the 6th of January (we prefer to say he was one-year-old instead of saying 13 months).
Did you have any knowledge of sepsis prior to him contracting it.
We had heard of it but we were not fully aware of it.
For readers who aren't familiar with it, can you tell us what sepsis is?
Sepsis is a life threatening condition that arises when the body’s response to an infection injures its own tissues and organs. Sepsis leads to shock, multiple organ failure and death especially if not recognized early and treated promptly. It can be caused by a huge variety of different bugs, most cases being caused by common bacteria which we all come into contact with every day without them making us ill. Sometimes, though, the body responds abnormally to these infections, and causes sepsis.
Are there any charities or websites dedicated to raising awareness of sepsis?
There are, October is known as Sepsis Awareness Month, and in the UK, the main charity is called The Sepsis Trust and their website can be found at www.sepsistrust.org
There is also the Sepsis Alliance.
Layton's passing has obviously been a tremendous blow to your family. I think few of us, particularly those of us who are parents can understand what the loss of a child is like. Can you give us a small insight into the impact it has on you as parents, your own physical and mental wellbeing?
The impact has been like a train wreck, and a nightmare that you can’t wake from. It is hard to put into words of how we feel. We feel numb and lost, and on some days we just feel so drained and tired we just want to sleep. For the first few weeks after his death we did not sleep, and hardly ate anything. If it had not been for one of my relatives giving us a kick up the backside not to be horrible to make us realize that we need to try and get a grip on things and start to eat I doubt we would be here talking like this now.
It is only now that we are slowly getting there, I have been diagnosed with severe PTSD, depression and anxiety. The hardest part of it all are the flash backs that I have and the nightmares.
How have Layton’s siblings coped with the loss of their brother?
This has been really hard on them especially James, who was three years old at the time of his passing. He became a little shadow of his former self and was so lost, as he lost his little playmate. His three sisters were the same our eldest, Reese, who was 11 at the time and took it really hard as she would look after him while we made our meals or done the house work.
As for his other two sisters, Brooke and Skye, who were nine and five respectively at the time, were totally lost and we tried to keep things as normal as possible. My proudest moment with them came two days after they lost their little brother, when they all asked if they could go back to school. They only missed one day of school, we really did not know what to do so we decided to let them go to school to try and keep things as normal as possible for them and discussed this with their school who gave them as much support as they needed.
You will notice that there are only four children mentioned; this is because our other son, Jenson was born after all of this, and came as a total shock to all of us, he was born on the 26th of July this year.
Recently, you were approached by a homeopathy advocate. Without dwelling on their nonsense, how much support have you had following their crass behaviour.
The support we have had following this has been overwhelming by a huge number of people on Twitter, yourself being one of them, they even started to donate to our GoFundMe page which was amazing! if it had not been for this support, I doubt I would have still been here to do this interview with yourself, because, as you know one of them encouraged me to commit suicide.
You've mentioned that you set up a GoFundMe page. Can you tell us more about it, and how people can help?
We set up the GoFundMe page with the aim of taking our children on holiday. We were actually planning a holiday in the summer when Layton passed away, and as a result of this we never had the holiday, as I went on sick leave from my job, so as we never had the money to have a holiday, so decided to set up the GoFundMe page in the hope we could give our kids that holiday that we were planning before they lost their little brother.
We had hoped that they could spend a few weeks having fun and not think about the horrible few months they have had. People can help by going to the GoFundMe page to make a donation using this link gofund.me/o93r7o
Your latest goal is to name an aircraft after Layton. Can you tell us a little about it, and where people can vote?
This is a competition that has been created by Thomson holidays to name one of their new 787 Dream Liner planes and people can visit the website and vote here http://nameourplane.com/name/fly-high-layton and if he gets the highest number of votes his name will be placed onto their new plane.
Keeping Layton’s memory alive is clearly very important to you, and thousands of people already know his name, and how he passed away. Aside from the aircraft, is there anything else people can do to help, especially in raising awareness of sepsis.
Yeah the main thing is raising the awareness of sepsis, but also how dangerous chickenpox can be, and that if you think there is something not right then seek medical help and do not be afraid to say to the doctor or nurse “could this be sepsis”. Also the Sepsis Trust has a link on their website to their online store where people can purchase wristbands, tie pins and other merchandise, such as Christmas cards, which have the Sepsis Trust logo, and raises money to help combat the disease and raise awareness.
There is obviously still a big hole in your family life. Have you been able to get back to some semblance of normality? How do you find the strength to cope on with day to day life?
We have tried to get back to some kind of normality we have good days and bad days but we are still not back to 100%. Something has changed with us and trying to explain it is hard. We know that we will never be the same people again as we are in that exclusive club that no one wants to be part of, and there is no way of cancelling our membership as it is for life. If it had not been for our other children and my many new friends on twitter I really don’t know how we would go on.
What advice would you give to parents in a similar situation to yourself?
I would say to them take things a day at a time, and when you find you need to cry then just do it, do not be afraid what people think of you as, unless they have been in your shoes they should not judge, and do not take offence if people start to ignore you, they are not doing it on purpose they just don’t know what to say to you.
Also believe me when I say it you will get sick of hearing the saying "I am sorry" but once again this is because no one knows what to say to you.
And if people say things to you that you think are not the right things to say, they may be saying them because they are worried about you. The one thing I will say is make sure you try to eat and sleep; I know you won’t want to or don’t want to, but believe me when I say you will need every ounce of energy to get you through the first four to six weeks after the tragedy. And if you think you need help do not be afraid to ask for it, this is especially true for men as people think we need to be strong and keep it together; well this is crap we are allowed to fall apart and people will be there to pick you up, and they won’t think anything less of you if you do go to pieces.
Dave and Nichol, thank you for your time, honesty and candour.
I am extremely grateful to Dave and Nichol for agreeing to this interview, and for sharing what must be the most painful experience of their lives. Moreover, I am grateful for their friendship. Getting to know them has been an absolute privilege, one I wish had happened under happier circumstances. Their candour, dignity and bravery are qualities I have nothing but respect and admiration for. I'm just a bloke with a blog, a Twitter account, and a platform to share their experience. All the credit for this post belongs entirely to them.
Please do take a minute to VOTE (clickable), and follow their progress using the hashtag #NameOurPlane No personal information is needed, nor your email address, so you won't be bombarded with spam.. It's literally ONE CLICK. Lastly, if you can, there’s a button below for donations to the family. Every little helps, so even if you can only afford a quid (or dollar), it WILL make a difference! You can also follow them on Twitter, @DaveHope80 and @NicholBoys where I am certain they will be delighted to meet new friends.
We may meet under tragic circumstances, but through the fires of hell are forged the friendships of forever
6th of January 2014 - 9th of February 2015
Sleep well, little scamp..