A FAMILY has spoken of their grief and pride after the death of 16-month-old Joseph Hedley, who had cerebral palsy caused by a lack of oxygen at birth.
Joseph, who lived in Seahouses with parents Paul and Michelle and 21-year-old brother Christopher, became more seriously ill recently and deteriorated quickly before he died on February 7.
Describing Joseph, mum Michelle, 44, said: “He was very stubborn and he had to have his own way constantly.
“But everybody loved him and you couldn’t walk down the street with Joseph without people stopping you to say hello.
“He changed all our lives completely. It was hard work sometimes but we would not have changed him for anything because he would not have been Joseph otherwise.”
Dad Paul, 46, who works for the environmental cleaning team at Northumberland County Council, said: “He doted on his brother and his brother doted on him.”
Christopher said that he was incredibly proud of little Joseph.
Michelle didn’t work because looking after Joseph was a full-time job and he required 24-hour care.
He was fed with a nasal tube and the family had to use a suction machine when necessary to clear his airways.
He was also on a very strict regime of medicines.
But the family said that Joseph took all of this in the best of spirits.
“He was a tough little cookie, a little fighter,” said Paul.
“Last June, he had gone back to the RVI.
“He was very ill but he got through it, although we thought he wasn’t going to make it. But he hadn’t been that bad most of the time.”
Since Joseph’s death, the Hedleys have received more than 100 cards offering condolences and support, mainly from people who live in Seahouses.
Paul said: “The people in the village have been fantastic. Everybody made a fuss of him whenever he went out in the village.”
Michelle said: “He took over our lives and he still is really, but he changed us all and made us stronger people.”
The family said they are eternally grateful to Alan Haile and Sally Ann Rogerson of Alan D Haile Funeral Services for everything they did following the loss of Joseph.
They said that the help and support they received from the pair made the most terrible time in their lives a little easier as they took control of everything.
Michelle said: “They are worth their weight in gold and nothing was too much trouble. We cannot thank them enough.
“They took over everything, which is such a great help as you don’t know where to start.”
They are also grateful for all the efforts of the doctors and medical staff who helped Joseph during his life. Michelle said that Joseph got the ‘best care possible’ from all those who looked after him.
“He never wanted for anything in terms of medicine or help,” added Paul.
Joseph received support from a number of members of staff from the Ashington Community Nursing Team including physiotherapists, occupational therapists and nursery nurses.
And he spent the first five weeks of his life in a special newborn baby unit at the Royal Victoria Infirmary (RVI) in Newcastle after being transferred from Wansbeck General Hospital. The nurses have now said that they are going to put up a plaque in memory of Joseph in the RVI.
“After Joseph was born he was on ward 35 and we couldn’t have got through the beginning without their support,” said Michelle.
They received help with travelling expenses from the Tiny Lives Foundation which helps parents of children on the ward.
Funeral donations totalling £400 have already been raised for Tiny Lives and Christopher is running the Great North Run this year for the foundation while Paul is going to run in aid of Scope.
Last year, Christopher took part in the race dressed in full-weight chainmail to raise money for Scope as well.
Anyone who wants to sponsor Christopher this year can go to http://www.justgiving.com/Chris-Hedley0