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Gravesend mum thanks ellenor hospice for helping her seven children

A mum-of-seven has thanked a hospice for helping her children in mourning the sudden loss of their father.

Leann Williams, from Gravesend, went to ellenor hospice for support when her husband Peter died just 10 days after being diagnosed with an advanced form of liver cancer.

Leann's children attended workshops at ellenor Hospice. Picture: Leann Williams
Leann's children attended workshops at ellenor Hospice. Picture: Leann Williams

In April and May 2021, the hospice care provider ran a puppetry workshop in collaboration with Strangeface Theatre Company to help participants express their feelings through play.

Leann's daughter Molly, who was seven at the time, found the loss the hardest and found it difficult to talk about her father since his death in early 2018.

But after she attended the workshop and made a puppet of him, the mum noticed an improvement.

Leann said: "For those few precious moments after the session, she was my little girl – she was Molly.

"After her father’s death, it was like a light had gone off inside her, but for those few seconds it was flickering.

"She was thinking about the story, what she was going to say, what she was going to do – how he was going to talk.

"She was already bringing him to life, which I think helped her because she was remembering things that daddy had done.

"She found his mug and some shortbread biscuits, as well as a Toblerone – because that’s daddy’s favourite chocolate. She wanted her puppet to have the things daddy liked."

ellenor Hospice in Northfleet. Picture: Google Maps
ellenor Hospice in Northfleet. Picture: Google Maps

Molly also attended a block of play therapy sessions, while Leann’s older children took part in ellenor’s GEMS (Grief: Every Memory is Special) groups.

The groups run for four days every year and help children share their emotions and make friends through team-building activities such as boxing training and forest survival skills.

Play therapist Jolanta Martis, who runs the sessions, said: "It can be very hard for children who have lost a loved one, and it can be incredibly difficult at school.

"When they come to our workshops and GEMS days, they know that everyone else has experienced loss and they can freely talk to each other.

"It helps them to know that other people are grieving and they are not alone."

The project was made possible thanks to an £8,000 grant from housing association L&Q.

Matt Corbett, director of the L&Q Foundation, said: "All of the work that ellenor does is incredible, and the work that they are doing with bereaved children is no exception.

"We are proud to have been able to support this amazing project."

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