'Thanks so much for your support'. That’s the emotional message from the family of Edward Dee, still grieving just over a year on from the sudden loss of the 10-year-old to meningitis. But today they revealed they have been thoroughly heartened by the way the community has rallied round to raise thousands of pounds in Edward’s name to aid research into the disease.
Over the last 12 months, more than £65,000 has been generated for the Edward Dee Forever fund for Meningitis Now – and the drive to ensure a lasting legacy in Edward’s name has provided a tremendous comfort to his mum Elizabeth, dad Justin and the couple’s other two sons, William and Oliver.
“Dealing with the loss of Edward is still very raw and still very painful and this in particular is a very difficult time,” said Elizabeth.
“But we carry on, because its not just us as a family who are still hurting, the community is still hurting.
“The ongoing support from the community is truly wonderful for us as a family, but the community support is about so much more.
“Edward knew so many people, he did so much, he was always one of the first to volunteer for anything which required his help.
“This is a community hurting, wanting to give back, wanting to remember Edward, while also raising money and awareness of meningitis.
“Hopefully next year will see more people getting involved, joining ‘Edward’s army’ of volunteers, setting themselves goals and challenges, taking inspiration from Edward’s ‘go for it’ attitude of sheer determination.
“To inspire people to do, to get involved, to challenge themselves, to live life to the full and to work together as a community is a legacy in itself for Edward.
“As Edward’s mum, I have a need to still do something for him. He is still my child, he is still part of our family.
“That is why I put my heart and soul into working so hard to raise funds and awareness and I would love to spend even more time doing this, but for that I would need sponsorship, so for now I do all I can with the time and resources I have.”
The fund is set to be boosted considerably next month when the Edward fund is the beneficiary of the next Lytham St Annes Lions swimarathon, to be held at St Annes YMCA Pool on Sunday, January 28.
Elizabeth is delighted the charity has been chosen, at the amount raised so far and how much the fund-raising is promoting greater awareness of the disease which claimed Edward’s life last December.
“We have raised an incredible amount of money and awareness of the disease is also going from strength to strength,” she said.
“As well as spending a whole weekend in Booths at Lytham raising awareness, we’ve also been out round Lytham in the evening, going to various pubs, handing out signs and symptoms cards.
“The Co-op has also chosen Meningitis Now in memory of Edward Dee as one of the local causes which members can vote for this year.
“Again, this keeps the profile of the charity raised, raises awareness and of course is a great boost to funds.”
Elizabeth paid tribute to Edward’s teacher at Clifton Primary School in St Annes, John Atkinson, who won the inspirational teacher award at The Gazette Education Awards.
She said: "Mr Atkinson taught both Edward and his older brother William, and I’m so pleased that he was recognised for all his efforts in light of this being such a difficult year. Edward’s class struggled this year, and despite dealing with his own emotions, Mr Atkinson was the strength and inspiration for the class and the school through the most difficult of times, in such an important year at school."