Earlier this month we shared with you the inspirational story of Wayne and Claire, parents to Jade. When Jade was just nine days old in January of this year, she came to Demelza’s Eltham hospice for end of life care. Today, Wayne and Claire are running the London Marathon in her memory and to continue raising vital funds for the organisations that were there throughout Jade’s journey. 

To mark Grandparents Day, we hear from Jade’s nanny and ‘grandowd’ – Julie Nash, Claire’s mum and Liam Flanagan, Wayne’s dad: 

Julie’s story 

“I spent 10 minutes with my baby granddaughter Jade when she was alive. In those precious moments I introduced myself as ‘Nanny Nash’, I held her tiny hand through the incubator, and then, I said goodbye.” 

Jade's grandparents, Julie and Steve Nash

“At just nine days old Jade had been transferred from hospital to Demelza for end of life care in the thick of a COVID-19 lockdown. The hospice and all of the Care team were amazing; they ensured that Jade could be with the people who loved her. I wish I could’ve held her. I wish I could’ve had longer. But I feel so incredibly grateful every day for the 10 minutes I had with her.  

When Jade died our world fell apart. I grieved for my loss but also for the pain that my daughter Claire and son-in-law Wayne were feeling. There was nothing I could do to alleviate it; I felt completely helpless.  

But thanks to Demelza, our family were given more time with Jade to make precious memories. I visited her in a special bereavement bedroom at the hospice called The Butterfly Suite. It was here that I read Frisky and Her Friends by Mary Brooks to her; a special book that my Nana had given to me in 1971. I also read ‘Guess How Much I Love You’ – a beautiful story about two hares who share a special bond and the boundlessness of their love. In those moments together, I felt Jade could hear the sound of Nanny’s voice reading to her and just how much I love her.  

Nine months on and it’s hard not to focus on the milestones that Jade should be reaching. By now she would be enjoying solids, sitting up on her own and maybe even starting to crawl. My heart breaks every time I see the little red coat that used to belong to my daughters hanging in the wardrobe. It was always going to be Jade’s. 

Looking back, it was such a difficult time for our family. I felt helpless not being able to step in to look after Elijah due to COIVD-19 restrictions while Claire and Wayne spent time with Jade. My other daughter also had a baby in lockdown and it was so hard seeing Claire spending time on her own with her little nephew.   

But I am thankful every day for those 10 minutes and I’m so very proud of Claire and Wayne for all they are doing to raise funds for Demelza in Jade’s memory. When Jade died I knew that’s what they would do because that is the kind of good people that they are; always determined to help others.” 

Liam’s story 

“Without Demelza I wouldn’t have had the chance to say hello – and goodbye - to my baby granddaughter. Without Demelza, we wouldn’t have the memories that we have of Jade. Without Demelza, it would have been a different and even more tragic experience.  

Jade's grandad Liam Flanagan and Uncle Vincent Flanagan.

Jade was born in the middle of a COVID-19 lockdown and the situation was so isolating. The amazing team of Demelza nurses enabled the wider family to visit Jade at the hospice; where we could also be a support to my son Wayne, his wife Claire and my grandson Elijah. 

When the time came for us to meet Jade for the first time, my other son – Jade’s uncle Stephen - played ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’ on his ukulele. I held her hand and told her stories. Every year on her birthday I will write to her and when the time comes for us to meet in heaven, we can catch up on those stories.  

After Jade passed, Wayne and Claire always wanted one of us to always be with her; they couldn’t bear the thought of her being on her own. So, Jade’s nanny Cathy mainly and the rest of the family, took it in turns to spend time with her in the Butterfly Suite. 

When we were at Demelza, the nurses were always there in the background. Now and again they would appear with a coffee in hand and a smile on their face. They were amazing with Jade’s brother Elijah and would whisk him away to do fun activities. He never had to worry about a thing.  

It has been months of pain since Jade died. But Wayne and Claire are surrounded by the most amazing group of friends who have been a huge support. They have thrown themselves into fundraising for Demelza and the other organisations that have helped them. I am so very proud.  

On the last leg of the Wayne’s second marathon, Claire cycled with him with Elijah in a trailer on the back. His ecstatic face was like sunshine in the rain. They are carrying on for him and following through with their promise that kindness will be Jade’s legacy.  

I formally retire next year and rather than gifts I will ask for donations towards Wayne and Claire’s challenges in supporting Jades charities and legacy. This is just the beginning of fundraising for them I’m sure.” 

Support for Grandparents at Demelza 

Our support group for bereaved grandparents is available to the families using Demelza’s services, for those struggling with their grief and to share experiences with those who have also experienced the loss of a beloved grandchild. 

If this is a service you would like to access, please contact our Family Support Team by emailing FamilySupportDepartment@demelza.org.uk.