A charity set up in memory of a boy who died from a brain tumour is helping to make life a little easier for the families of children with cancer.
Alec’s Angels was founded by Brian Jarvis and Sara Justice in 2012 following the death of their nine-year-old son, Alec.
Hillesden boy Alec Jarvis was diagnosed with a brain tumour in February 2010. He was treated at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford and passed away in Helen & Douglas House Hospice in March 2011.
A year after Alec’s death, his parents set up Alec’s Angels, initially to give back to two charities that had helped them during Alec’s illness.
CLIC Sargent provided the family with emotional support and also financial support after Sara had to give up her job as a trainee nurse in order to care for Alec full time.
The pioneering children’s hospice, Helen & Douglas House, enabled the whole family to remain together in Alec’s last weeks.
Brian, who lives in Winslow, said: “The whole family were able to move into the hospice on February 22 and we didn’t leave there till March 11.
“We were able to stay there, with Alec. His brother and sister were able to stay too. It just meant the whole family could be together.”
Among other things, Alec’s Angels funds the hospice’s Home Volunteer Project.
Brian said: “We sent them money to set up trained volunteers to go into people’s home whilst the families stay at the hospice.
“They clean, feed pets, bring the post in, cut the lawn – all the things you would do naturally when you’re at home.
“If the family’s all gone to the hospice, what happens to the home?”
The charity also donates items the children would like, including portable DVD players and DVDs, colouring pencils, loom bands, cookery equipment and craft kits and materials.
Brian said: “I don’t go to the fundraising team, I go to the carers and the nurses on the front line.
“They told us the children wanted to do some cooking but the big catering equipment is too big for the kids. So Alec’s Angels goes out and buys brightly coloured, child-friendly cooking utensils.
“The hospice ran out of Play-Doh so I took 150 tubs up there.
“I will be at the hospice at least every month to find out what’s needed.”
Through CLIC Sargent, which has social workers based at the John Radcliffe Hospital, the charity funds outings for children with life-limiting illnesses and their families.
These have included a trip for four children, with their friends and carers, to go and see Robbie Williams and Ollie Murs at Wembley Stadium.
Brian said: “We arranged transport if needed, they could take a friend with them and we also gave them spending money so they could choose what they wanted to buy. And that I think is very important because it’s absolutely amazing to be given something but to be given the choice is a greater gift, I think.”
Each year, the charity takes six to eight families on a go-karting day out in Oxford.
The go-karting team from Green Light Autos of Buckingham, which supports Alec’s Angels, have even adapted a go-kart to be a two-seater, so children who aren’t well enough to drive can be driven by a family member.
Alec’s Angels also gives grants to help families financially – and sometimes something quite small can make a big difference.
Brian said: “We got one mum of a little boy a dishwasher because everything has to be sterilised. And if everything goes into the dishwasher, Mum can spend more time with him.”
On New Year’s Eve, Alec’s Angels treated everyone on Kamran Ward, the children’s cancer ward, to a takeaway Pizza Hut and prosecco.
Since it was formed, the charity has been able to donate over £40,000 to help children with life-limiting illnesses and their families – thanks to the fundraising efforts of the Buckingham and Winslow community.
Many local companies and groups have embraced the charity, including Ella Homes, Green Light Autos and Divine Diva of Winslow, which has organised a Halloween party at the Bell Hotel two years running.
Sue and Tiddler Carter have donated thousands of pounds from their bingo nights and New Year’s Eve parties at Buckingham Community Centre.
Lauren Leutchford of Winslow Sports & Social Club handed over £1,170 from a sponsored skydive.
And each year a group of mums from Gawcott raise several hundred pounds from the Gawcott Mile fancy dress walking and running event.
The charity’s biggest annual fundraiser is its It’s A Knockout contest, which this year has a bigger venue.
The family fun day takes place at Buckingham Rugby Club on Sunday, May 17 – and the call is out for teams to enter.
Entry costs £500 a team, with six to 10 people per team.
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 07720 243412.
For more information, see www.alecsangels.co.uk