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I had this crazy idea of running 50 marathons in 50 days to raise money for the wonderful work that Chestnut Tree House do and in memory of Connor Gilbert, my neighbours nephew, who sadly passed away in 2006. Chestnut Tree House supported Connor and his family during this difficult time and provide the best quality of life for children, young people and their families and offer practical, social and spiritual support throughout each child;s life, however short it may be.
Connor was born on 7th July 1998 and was the most gorgeous boy with a heart melting smile and beautiful red hair. Connor was referred for investigations as he wasn't making the milestones we'd have expected as he approached his 1st birthday. Connor went through various investigations to try and get a diagnosis for why he couldn't walk or talk but no one was able to find a cause. Despite this Connor had a wicked sense of humour and enjoyed going to school, where he would go swimming, and being with his family.
In April 2005 Connor became very unwell and spent a month in intensive care, where I was told his brain stem was shutting down and there was nothing that could be done.
Connor was transferred to Chestnut Tree House for end of life care having been given just a few days to live. When we got there, it was nothing like we expected. It wasn't the clinical environment we'd imagined, but a home, with lovely bedrooms, full of toys and books. There were beautiful gardens, a music room, a sensory room and a pool!
Connor spent a month at Chestnut where it became clear he had different ideas from the doctors! We got Connor back home, where he returned to school and swimming. We took him on holiday to Cornwall with his little brother Sean. Connor also had regular stays at Chestnut and the staff even came out to see him at home.
It was a year later that Connor became unwell again and I had to make the hardest decision of my life. Do I have him ventilated and transferred to London where he would be attached to lots of machines again, or let him be in a place he loved.
We had him transferred to Chestnut that night, and at 04.50 on 15th May 2006, my beautiful angel fell asleep forever.
Not only is this a massive personal challenge for me but I want to raise much needed funds for Chestnut Tree so they can help other families and children like Connor.
Lloyd Palmer (Roadrunner)