“My Mum adored Layla and introduced us all to Elmer the Patchwork Elephant. She was delighted when she heard, and then told me about the Elmer parade! And how she’d take Layla to see all the elephants.
“Mum deteriorated and was moved to St Oswald’s Hospice, which was an unbelievably hard time for us all. But I cannot stress enough how wonderful the staff and whole feel of the place was.
“The first day I visited Mum I was delighted to meet Elmer the Patchwork Elephant sculpture on the way to reception, it was almost like it was meant to be. Layla ran up and gave the sculpture a huge cuddle; this made me smile which helped massively as I took the unbelievably hard walk down the corridor to see Mum there for the first time. I was able to walk into her room with a huge smile on my face and explain to her that Elmer was in reception!
“My wife and I took Layla to the opening of the parade. Layla immediately took a shine to Elmer giving him the biggest cuddle ever and subsequently doing the same, posing for umpteen photos across the region when we would go on the hunt for more Elmers. I was fulfilling Mum’s promise to take Layla to visit Elmer and seeing the joy on Layla’s face each step of the way.
“Mum passed away peacefully in the knowledge that Layla had met Elmer and would be following the full trail throughout the north-east. At this point I still didn’t realise what a huge impact a kids’ story elephant would have on my life!
“I’m not ashamed to admit that so far I’ve not dealt with Mum’s passing. But arriving at Dad’s house the day that Wilbur arrived home went a long way to putting my mind at peace, knowing that I’ll always have him in my life. He is so much more to me than just a huge, beautiful ornament. He will always be a part of our herd.”