LOSING a loved one is hard for anyone, but when young Joe Higgins’ beloved grandmother died it was particularly tough – he is only seven.
The youngster is battling his grief by taking up running, and is raising hundreds of pounds for the charity which helped him through his bereavement by competing in today’s 2.5km Junior Bupa Great Winter Run.
His grandma Susan Croke, 64, had been caring for Joe and his sister Erin, four, every day since their mother went back to work as a nursery nurse.
But last year she was stricken with the cancer lymphoma. It was such an aggressive form that she could not be treated and died in June, just a few months after her diagnosis.
Joe’s mum, Yvonne Higgins, said the loss had been a huge blow for the family, who live in East Calder, but the children’s bereavement charity Richmond’s Hope, based on Niddrie Mains Road, was a great help.
“She was their full-time carer, and Joe’s a very deep little boy,” she said.
“Because he’s seven, and he’s a boy, he’s got a lot of testosterone and anger and it was difficult for him to channel it, but they’ve been a big help.
“He had a lot of detailed questions about cancer, so one of the nurses came out and talked about things. He’s done a memory jar and talked about feelings, and they’ve got a padded room with a punch bag, which he absolutely loves.
“The first few weeks we had quite a few outbursts, but the last few he’s been much better, and he’s thrown himself into his running.”
After supporting numerous family and friends as they took part in their own sporting events, Joe decided in October, while cheering on an aunt during the Bupa 10km Great Edinburgh Run, that he would like to have a go himself.
Mrs Higgins said: “He said: ‘Can I not do this?’ It came over the Tannoy a couple of minutes later about the junior run and I thought ‘Why not?’
“We spoke to him about Richmond’s Hope when he first started going – it’s something like £1300 for this care, and we told Joseph to understand it was a huge thing they’re doing for us. He decided he wanted to give something back. I thought ‘This is amazing, I’m proud of him.’”
By tackling the run in Holyrood Park, the youngster has raised around £300 through his webpage, www.justgiving.com/Yvonne-Higgins.
Richmond’s Hope project worker Kirsten Law said: “We’re really happy he’s running it for us. It will be a challenge for him, but donations like this are what we survive on.