Family marks first Christmas without Jake’s big smile
A mum is facing her first Christmas without her severely disabled son who always had a beaming smile for everyone.
Nine-year-old Jake Woodcock had an infectious laugh that brightened the lives of everyone around him.
But last year as Christmas approached, Jake from Greenside, High Halden, who was born with multiple disabilities, developed a flu-like illness.
His mum, Samantha Kay, 33, said: “Jake seemed just a bit under the weather at first and when the community nurse checked him neither of us could hear any wheeze.”
Bubbly Jake couldn’t speak but his bright eyes showed his emotions and he was adored by siblings Abigail, 12, a Homewood School, Tenterden, pupil, Isla, seven, who attends High Halden Primary School, and Ava-Sue, two.
Jake was even well enough to take part in the Christmas play at Wyvern School, Ashford, where he played a robin.
But he didn’t quite shake the bug off and on Boxing Day his condition worsened.
Sam and Jake’s stepdad Jamie Hutton, 33, who works as a yardman, went through the usual routine of giving him oxygen and removing mucus from his airways, but Jake failed to improve.
He was rushed to William Harvey Hospital where medics decided his condition was so serious that he needed to be transferred to the Evelina Children’s Hospital in London.
Jake, who had cerebral palsy, epilepsy, brain abnormalities and scoliosis (curvature of the spine), had been in the hospital before.
Sam said: “Jake’s spine was twisted and it was like a big ‘S’ shape, with hips going in the opposite direction to his shoulders, so he had a major operation on his hips in July to get his body more in line.”
As soon as Jake was transferred to the Evelina Children’s Hospital he was put on a ventilator, but days later when medics tried to take him off the machine, his heart rate became critically high as he struggled to breathe independently.
“Jake’s heart rate shot up to 200 beats per minute and the doctors said he would have a cardiac arrest if he didn’t go back on the ventilator,” said Sam.
It was then they broke the dev- astating news that her son would never recover and Sam took the agonising decision to have his life support withdrawn.
The heartbroken mum decided to bring Jake back home to High Halden to die and she was at his side, together with step-dad, when he passed away on January 26, surrounded by his toys.
Jake was a big fan of superhero characters and at his funeral, held at St Mary’s Church, Kennington, Co-op funeral director Paul Newman dressed as Spiderman and a giant balloon of the figure was attached to the top of Jake’s carriage.
The family is now planning a permanent memorial bench to Jake at Bybrook cemetery in Ashford, where the little boy is buried.
‘Even if he was in pain or having a bad day, he had a smile for everyone’
For now they have a bench at the bottom of their small garden where dream catchers hang and they share memories of Jake.
This month at High Halden Primary School, classmates of Isla, seven, held a superhero dressup day and movie night to raise funds for a memorial bench to be placed in the cemetery for Jake, collecting £164.
The Kentish Express learnt of the fundraiser and the fact that Jake’s family had set up a fundraising page for the bench after the school contacted the newspaper to ask a photographer to attend its superhero event.
Sister Abigail has written a touching letter to the primary school about how much her brother meant to her saying that he is “happier now”.
Sam said: “I lost Jake at this time last year and the memories are starting to hit me.
“He was everything to me and was dependent on me for everything. Jake was always smiling, even if he was in pain or having a bad day, he had a smile for everyone.”
Jake’s funeral director Paul Newman from Co-op Funeralcare, Faversham Road, Ashford - who did a parachute jump in aid of the fund - is seeking donations for the bench which can be made at https://www.justgiving.com/ crowdfunding/paul-newman
Clockwise from above, Isla and her classmates hold a superhero day, Jake with his sisters Abigail, Isla and Ava-Sue, and Co-op funeral director Paul Newman dressed as one of Jake’s favourite characters, Spider-man, for his funeral
Step-dad Jamie and mum Sam on a bench in their garden where they go to remember him
Sam and Jake on a day out