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'Red Day' funds bereavement bears in memory of Ilkley father


Last week, pupils at Sacred Heart Primary School in Ilkley held ‘Red Day’ to fund bereavement bears in memory of Nick Carr, whose daughter Bea attends the school. 


Bea lost her dad Nick when he died suddenly and totally unexpectedly following a heart attack at the age of 55, after going to hospital with chest pain. Nick was a much-loved member of the Ilkley community, he left behind his amazing wife Sarah and his two daughters Maisie and Bea, who were aged just 12 and 6 years.


Sarah remembers how devastated and lost she felt leaving the hospital with her daughters, with just a carrier bag of Nick's clothes and a leaflet about bereavement.


At this point it was decided that Sacred Heart would do something in memory of Bea's daddy. A year later, near what would have been Nick's birthday, the school held a ‘Red Day’ fundraiser. Pupils wore red (Nick’s favourite colour) and ran a cake stall raising £400! 


Chloe Fisher, who is a family care and bereavement sister for paediatric intensive care at Leeds Children's Hospital is a friend of the family. She recalls how "one day myself and Sarah had a discussion about how she has never forgotten how she felt in the immediate aftermath of Nick's death. Lost and devastated she left A&E at Leeds holding the hands of Maisie and Bea, with a bag of Nick's possessions and a bereavement leaflet! Sarah was determined to make a change; she didn’t want other families to feel this empty and she wanted to raise money in Nick's memory."


The brilliant idea of Bereavement Bears was born – cuddly friends to be given out to children who may have lost a parent or sibling suddenly.

Bereavement Bears are soft and easy to hold, something that children can cuddle, hug and squeeze and hopefully provide some comfort at such a distressing time.


In 2022 the initial fundraising was used to source and purchase 70 Bereavement Bears which have been given to children and young people in adult Emergency Departments at St James’ and LGI, as well as PICU at Leeds Children’s Hospital. The scheme has been a huge success and all of the initial bears were gifted.


In 2023 Mrs Gilhooly at Sacred Heart Primary School had to set up a GoFundMe page as so many of Nicks friends and members of his community wanted to support this worthy cause. In 2023 over £3,000 was raised! In total Sarah has provided over 270 Bereavement Bears and sadly they are very frequently used.


The ‘Red Day’ last Friday raise over £300 from selling cakes and wearing red, to fund a new generation of bereavement bears.


Mrs Gilhooly said: "Bea had a great time dancing with her friends and baking cakes to sell- a wonderful way to remember her devoted daddy! Nick, your legacy lives on.


“We are still hoping to make over £1000 in total to support us in continuing to provide bereavement bears and fund bereavement training for secondary school colleagues in the local area.” 


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