Havant family provide inspiration for Rainbow Trust Christmas animation voiced by Gyles Brandreth

A HAVANT family fronting a charity’s Christmas appeal have inspired a festive animation highlighting the difficulties faced by families with a seriously ill child.

Monday, 16th December 2019, 4:57 pm
Updated Monday, 16th December 2019, 9:49 pm
The Birch family from Havant have inspired the Rainbow Trust's Christmas Appeal and a festive animation voiced by Gyles Brandreth. (L-R): Dad Steve holding Fraizer, three; Paris, nine; Jenson, two; Layla, seven; Tallulah, six; Paisley, four; Mum Clare (with long blonde hair)

Jenson Birch, two, is the youngest of six children. He has Down’s syndrome, heart and lung problems, needs oxygen 24/7, and has a specialist feeding tube.

His parents, Clare and Steve and his siblings, Paris, nine, Paisley, four, Fraizer, three, Tallulah, six, and Layla, seven, are supported by Rainbow Trust’s Southampton Care Team.

The family knows only too well how precious time is after Jenson was rushed to hospital on Christmas Eve two years ago.

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Clare said: ‘Jenson had an awful cough but the doctors told us not to worry and to give him Calpol but on Christmas Eve 2017, just before midnight, we were wrapping the last of the presents when his cough got worse and he was struggling to breathe. We called an ambulance who took us to the hospital where he was admitted and treated for pneumonia.’

On Christmas day, the family were separated as Clare stayed with Jenson in hospital while Steve stayed at home to look after their other five small children.

‘When the children woke up, they didn’t know that I wasn’t there or that their baby brother was in the hospital,’ said Clare.

‘I was so upset - they’ve missed out on so much with Jenson being so ill and the thought of not being with them for Christmas morning was just another time I was letting them down. It was awful.

‘A few days before, my three-year-old had asked if the hospital was my other home as I was there so often with Jenson.’

Rainbow Trust has produced a Christmas Appeal and used the Birch’s story as the inspiration behind a Christmas animation, voiced by presenter Gyles Brandreth.

It follows the story of a small boy struggling to enjoy Christmas morning after his sister is rushed to hospital, so he writes to Father Christmas to ask for more time for the family to spend together.

Then, together with his elves, Santa creates a Rainbow Trust family support worker ‘who’s one-of-a-kind’.

Family support worker Dawn has supported the family since February 2018.

Clare said: ‘We wouldn’t want to be without her now. When I need her, Dawn is always there for us.’

To watch the animation or make a donation, visit rainbowtrust.org.uk/christmas-time.