Big-hearted children at Chester Blue Coat CE Primary School were bubbling with enthusiasm to raise funds for a charity set up by one of their teachers – and banished the January gloom with some eco-friendly fun at the same time.
Year 4 teacher Helen Lyons and her family were devastated last August when her younger daughter Elspeth died suddenly at the age of 19 months. To add to their burden of grief, it soon became clear that few services exist to help children such as the Lyons’ elder daughter Florence, aged five, cope with bereavement.
To try and redress the situation the family has set up their own charity called Elsie Ever After to link up bereavement services available and ensure a blanket of support, regardless of location. In particular, they aim to ensure that all families in Cheshire West and Chester know where to seek support, and that funds are available for that support to be provided.
The charity’s first fundraiser, Blowing Birthday Bubbles for Bereavement Bonanza (BBBBB) was timed to coincide with Elsie's 2nd birthday on Friday, January 10 and involved people throughout the country blowing bubbles in imaginative locations. Pupils at Chester Blue Coat CE Primary School, on Walpole Street, were keen to get involved and formed a mass of bubbles in a giant heart shape in the playground for an event they named Blue Coat’s Billions of Bubbles Burst With Love, thanks to 120 pots of bubble mixture donated by Tesco’s Broughton store.
Other entries in the event included Chester fire service blowing bubbles high above the Chester skyline, bubble blowing in Trafalgar Square, in front of the London skyline, in front of the Angel of the North, on top of Snowdon, ducks enjoying bubbles in the River Dee and bubbles made from dry ice in a lab.
The winners were announced on Saturday. In joint fifth place were Miha and Sarah Claridge with 40 votes, fourth place was Fireman Gary Furmage with 46 votes, third was baby Anya with 51 votes, second was baby Bobby with 88 votes, and in first place was Chester Blue Coat School with 111 votes. The organiser and photographer of the winning photograph was Paula Howard-Jones. It is hoped to produce a photobook to raise more funds.
Contributors uploaded their photographs to the
So far the event has raised £1,415, to add to the £3,650 raised for Alder Hey hospital instead of flowers at Elsie’s celebration of life service.
The money raised is being donated to Reflect, the child bereavement team at the Hospice of the Good Shepherd which provides bereavement support to Chester and the surrounding area to approximately 180 children each year.
It is hoped the money from BBBBB will be spent on items such as children's bereavement books to become either a lending library based at the Hospice, or to be gifted to individual children in memory of Elsie, regular events where bereaved children and their parents can meet together and take part in activities such as story telling workshops and craft days to create items in memory of someone special, and funding more hours for trained bereavement counsellors to work with children who need support.
Helen said: “I am not the sort of person who feels like I must do something in Elsie’s name to remember her by. I don’t. I am a busy person. Believe it or not, I have lots of worthwhile things in my life to occupy my time and get me up in the morning. But I can’t see others go through the struggles we have just to get some support. Whilst grieving ourselves, we have been fighting to get some help for our little girl who cries herself to sleep, complains she is lonely at school and asks us regularly if we are going to die.”
Fellow teacher Paula Howard-Jones said of the event: “It was a very moving experience. The children had so much fun and it was for a very worthwhile cause.”
To donate to Elsie Ever After, log on to the