SARAH and Chris Cookson should have been celebrating their son’s third birthday today.
But instead the couple are taking comfort that the loss of their ‘little angel’ has helped changed the lives of so many others with a fund founded in his memory.
Brave Charlie Cookson died in October having spent his short life battling a mystery condition, which left him with numerous medical problems including epilepsy, breathing complications, plus sight, muscle and bone issues.
Sarah, 37, from Simonside, South Shields, said: “They say time is a great healer but, for us, every day which passes takes us further from the time we had with Charlie and that is hard.
“We haven’t made any definite plans of how we’re going to celebrate.
“We shall see how we feel when we wake up, but we take such comfort in knowing the effect Charlie has already had on others, and how his time with us has helped so many.”
Charlie had also battled illnesses including meningitis and septicaemia, and underwent several operations, including two hernia repairs and a brain biopsy.
Thought his lifetime, loved ones, Gazette readers and complete strangers, raised thousands of pounds to buy the youngster essential equipment, which was not available on the NHS.
In a bid to help others, Chris and Sarah launched the Charlie Cookson Foundation (CCF) shortly after their son’s death to help other families in similar circumstances.
Sarah said: “We never dreamed that the charity would have taken off the way it has.
“It’s hard trying to work out who we help because it has to be parents who have children, with life-limiting conditions, which need round the clock care.
“At the moment our aim is to help one family a month, but we hope in the future to do more.”
The cash comes from a range of fundraising events, which still take place. Every Friday, a ‘Cookies’ Corner’ is held at South Shields Market, which sees bric-a-brac being donated and sold.
There are also plans to have an additional, and daily, shop at Perth Green Community Association in Inverness Road, Jarrow, which will be up and running shortly.
Sarah said: “It really helps Chris and I, knowing that Charlie’s legacy is continuing to help other children.
“I love it when I spot strangers in shops, wearing the CCF blue wrist bands, and I think to myself ‘they’re wearing that because of our son’.
“It’s a wonderful feeling.”
She added: “They say angels aren’t meant to stay on earth for long.
“And we truly believe that’s what Charlie is.”