Chestnut Tree House makes a big difference to people’s lives at Christmas

Last week I spoke about Christmas and how it can be a difficult time for the children and families cared for by Chestnut Tree.

Chestnut Tree House Update SUS-150904-142810001
Chestnut Tree House Update SUS-150904-142810001

This week I would like to share a story from Chestnut Tree Mum, Vicki Thorne, about one very special Christmas with her daughter Iona-May;

“My daughter Iona-May was born nine weeks too early. She was very poorly and immediately taken into intensive care. She had severe brain damage and we were told to expect her to die any day, but every morning we woke up and she was still with us, still fighting.

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That was in May 2006 – and that was when it was suggested that we go and see Chestnut Tree. We quickly learned that Chestnut were not there to cure, but to care for Iona-May, support us and add as much joy and fulfilment into all our lives as they could.

Iona-May was very, very ill for all of her life. But, she did have a life – a life filled with love and enjoyment. We gave her as much as we could manage as a family – and Chestnut were there for us every step of the way.

With Chestnut’s support, there were so many special moments in Iona-May’s life but I remember her first Christmas the best.

She was seven months old and hadn’t really reacted to any stimulus we’d given her up to then. We’d bought her a little toy tiger we’d found at Argos; I gave it to her on Christmas morning and helped her to unwrap it. It had a squeaker inside, so we squeaked it.

Iona-May smiled. A full, proper smile. For the first time in her life.

From that moment on, ‘CatCat’ (as he became known) and Iona-May were inseparable. For the rest of her life they were never parted. Every Christmas Iona-May (and CatCat!) went to Chestnut’s Christmas parties. She loved them and I have treasured pictures of her with Santa Claus, receiving her present.”

Iona-May sadly passed away in October 2013, aged just 7 and a half. But, despite a life that was so difficult, so challenged by illness, she managed to have many special moments that her mum, Vicki, can now remember.

If you would like to help bring a smile to a local life-limited child this Christmas then please visit or telephone 01903 706329.