Rupert’s story

Before the death of their baby boy, Kate and Sam had never used our services. When Rupert died unexpectedly, he was brought to our special bereavement suite where his family could say goodbye in calm and beautiful surroundings.

Watch Rupert’s story

"No words can describe how we felt when at four months old, after fighting for his life, Rupert died unexpectedly. Chestnut gave our family a very special place to say goodbye. It was the positive, beautiful experience we needed to process our grief and remember the pure joy Rupert brought us in the short time we had together."

“I was so scared of him being alone in the dark”

Rupert was born with a hole in his heart, and after months of complications, he suffered a devastating stroke. We were told that our delightfully happy child wouldn’t be able to walk, talk, swallow, or even let us know he was in pain. Together, my husband Sam and I made the heartbreaking decision to turn off Rupert’s life support. Because we’d chosen to help more babies by donating Rupert’s organs, we had to say goodbye in the hospital. Under the bright fluorescent lights of the operating theatre, he just didn’t look like the beautiful baby I once held in my arms. And the hardest thing was having to leave him in the mortuary – I was so scared of him being alone in the dark.

Chestnut Tree House baby and mother lying close together

“After the trauma of hospital, Chestnut felt like heaven”

If it wasn’t for Chestnut Tree House, turning off Rupert’s life support could have been our last memory of being with him. But that evening, I got a call from the team at the hospice. They told me they could bring Rupert to their special bereavement suite which is not just for children they have cared for. And they promised me that they would never turn the lights off in his room. I cannot tell you how comforting it was to hear that. The next day, I went to see Rupert at Chestnut. He looked like a little angel. His skin was white and his lips were cherry red as he lay in a cosy bed. The suite looked like the most perfect children’s room – filled with the calming sounds of nursery rhymes and the soft glow of fairy lights. It was exactly the kind of room you would pick for your own baby.

A photo of Sam and Rupert

“Nursery rhymes, fairy lights, love and constant support. Chestnut Tree House hospice gave us the perfect place to say goodbye to our Rupert.”

“Losing a child can feel so lonely”

When your child dies, hardly anyone knows what you’re going through. That’s why it means so much to have a warm, supportive community that does. And in the months that followed Rupert’s death, Chestnut was a rock for me and my husband. Sam received some incredible emotional support from Chestnut’s chaplain and joined the monthly support group for dads like him, which he’s found so helpful.

Both Sam and I know that Chestnut will continue to play a massive part in our lives, and we’ll be back for every memorial event, along with Rupert’s brothers – four-year-old Gilbert and our new baby, Percy. I’m thankful that when they’re older, we can bring them to Chestnut. We can say, “This beautiful place is where we said goodbye to your baby brother.”

Donate to help families like Rupert's

Over £5 million is needed every year to provide hospice care for local children and their families. Very little of this comes from government funding, the rest comes from the amazing donations we receive. We couldn't do it without you.

A Chestnut Tree House baby wearing a nasal tube.