Fam­ily marks first Christ­mas with­out Jake’s big smile

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Re­port - By Rachael Woods

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

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