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Jemma Godden, from Hawkinge, creates bucket list for terminally ill son Draven Jefferies

By Sean Axtell

The mother of a terminally ill boy has told how she is creating a 'bucket list' to give him as many special memories as possible.

When Jemma Godden gave birth to Draven, now eight, he had no oesophagus and his lungs were attached to his stomach.

Draven spent his first eight months in an intensive care unit undergoing surgery before going home.

Draven Jefferies
Draven Jefferies

But mum Jemma, now 33, received tragic news months later when a clinician diagnosed Draven with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy and a rare gene mutation.

The terminal illness means Draven, who also has lung disease, will need to use a wheelchair before his teens.

Jemma, of Parker Place, Hawkinge, said: “I can’t describe what it does to you as a person when you receive bad news after bad news, it is horrible. When doctors finally allowed Draven to be looked after at home, it was awesome.

“Shortly after he came home we discovered through more tests that he had the disease.

“It broke me and I didn’t know what was going on, everything was so overwhelming.”

Draven Jefferies
Draven Jefferies

In July last year, doctors delivered more crushing news, leaving Jemma, an ex-Brockhill pupil, “with nowhere to turn.”

And so Jemma and animal-lover Draven came up with the idea to write a ‘bucket-list’ of things to do before he dies.

Owning a pet fish, riding in a submarine, visiting Disneyland and “meeting as many animals as possible” are some of the items listed.

Jemma continued: “I just want to help to create as many memories for my soft-natured little boy as possible.

“He has always wanted a bunk bed, my carpenter friend Andy (Bradley) decided to make him one for free and firefighters donated the mattresses.”

Firefighters deliver mattresses for Draven Jefferies' new bunk bed
Firefighters deliver mattresses for Draven Jefferies' new bunk bed

Siblings Josie, 10 and Rogan, three, lead different lives and Jemma says Draven’s increasing awareness of those differences - and knowing he won’t be able to walk - can frustrate him.

“A little while ago he told me how he was worried he wasn’t going to be able to dance when he’s older.

“But you’ve got to be strong. I tell him that he will be able to dance, he’ll just have to wiggle the controller on his wheelchair in time to the music."

She added: “It is hard as a parent though. I have to be strong in public when I hear a child making fun of how Draven walks or something similar. But sometimes at night I just cry.”

Folkestone firefighters delivered two mattresses to Draven's house, so he can share the bed with brother Rogan.

Draven Jefferies, eight, and Rogan, three, with Andy Bradley from Excaliber Carpentry and Joinery, Folkestone watch manager John Howard and firefighters Farrell Cox and Adam Eastwood
Draven Jefferies, eight, and Rogan, three, with Andy Bradley from Excaliber Carpentry and Joinery, Folkestone watch manager John Howard and firefighters Farrell Cox and Adam Eastwood

The youngster also got to dress a fireman.

Firefighter Farrell Cox said: "Every year two weeks before Christmas in town near Bouverie Square we fundraise and I hope this shows the joy those donations can bring to a person's life.”

So far people have donated a number of luxurious experiences to Draven.

Feeding bears at Port Lympne Nature Reserve, a day at home with meerkats and meeting motocross hero Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne to name a few.

Jemma continued: “Some of the things people have been prepared to donate has been incredible.

“We are going Tenerife soon, where Draven will swim with dolphins. A complete stranger also bought tickets for him to go on a submarine.”

To keep up to date with Draven’s story see the Our Hero Draven page on Facebook or donate via his GoFundMe page.

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