'Our pain will never go away but we focus all of our energy into our charity' - Sarah and Chris Cookson open up about tragedy of losing two sons
Sarah and Chris Cookson founded the Charlie & Carter Foundation in 2013 in memory of their first son Charlie, who sadly died aged just two, following a series of health problems.
His family launched a fundraising and social media campaign called Find A Heart for Carter, in a bid to find a donor - but time ran out and he sadly died on January 19, 2019.
Since then, Sarah, 44, and Chris, 40, have continued to channel their energy into the Charlie & Carter Foundation (CCF) to help other families of seriously ill children.
The foundation provides financial support to parents of children with life limiting conditions that require 24 hour nursing care or specialist nursing facilities.
So far the charity has supported 68 families across the UK, giving away more than £210,000.
And now Sarah and Chris, from South Shields, have opened up about how they are coping since losing their two little boys.
Chris, who is chairman of the charity, said: “Every day we wake up and live the same day over and over again, we deal with the pain of losing two sons and that pain never goes away.
“It is a hollowness and emptiness that we know will never be filled until we are all together again.
“We started what was known as The Charlie Cookson Foundation and now The Charlie & Carter Foundation in our boy’s honour to support families who have children with life limiting conditions, who are living the same life we did.
“Our pain will never go away but we focus all of our energy into our charity.”
The couple say the foundation helps to relieve the financial pressures of parents who are unable to work or have had to reduce their working hours to care for their sick child.
Their campaign Find A Heart for Carter helped to raise awareness of the importance of organ donation in babies and children and now the couple have said they believe their boys were put on earth to save others.
Chris continued: “Charlie and Carter will always be in our hearts and the driving force behind our charity.
“We will make sure their names will continue to raise awareness and with the heartbreaking story of our youngest needing a 'gift of life' to survive, we know they will now save the lives of many.
“Hearing his story and sharing the awareness that we all have a gift to give.
“We will never get our boys back, maybe our boys were not here for us, but they were here to save others.”
Throughout their ordeal the couple say the support they have had ‘amazing’ support from the community and volunteers who have rallied round to help raise awareness of their campaign for Carter and donations for the charity.
Chris said: “It is not just the support of the events and donations, it the is genuine and heartfelt emotional support we have both received.
“At the beginning of the year our world came crashing down again.
“You all felt our pain and went above and beyond to give our little baby a fighting chance of survival.
“We will be forever grateful for all of your love, support and efforts to give us the best chance of being a family.”
He continued: “We have worked day in day out to build a charity dedicated to supporting our beliefs and the work we want to do, we have an incredible team behind us and we would not have achieved what we have without every volunteer or member of staff who support us.
“We have a lot of volunteers who have been with us from the beginning, they truly are the heart and soul of our foundation.
“We feel truly blessed to have them all and we are certain they were hand picked by our angels.”