Jak Trueman lives on through new support centre

Allison Barr with daughter Aimie and patron Neil Alexander along with West Calder High pupils Adam Moore, Cameron MCloud, Declan Milne, Lauren McInnes, architects Robert Colin, Alison Allan, Jaks Den Trustee Carol Bartholomew and co-ordinator Stephanie Hannah. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
Allison Barr with daughter Aimie and patron Neil Alexander along with West Calder High pupils Adam Moore, Cameron MCloud, Declan Milne, Lauren McInnes, architects Robert Colin, Alison Allan, Jaks Den Trustee Carol Bartholomew and co-ordinator Stephanie Hannah. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
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BURSTING with colour and beaming with bright lights, the doors to Jak Trueman’s Den opened, welcoming visitors from all over the Lothians to a new support centre.

Boasting a media room – packed with large screen TVs and consoles – soft play, arts and crafts activities and a smart board, the facility is a tribute to the teenager, who died from a rare form of blood cancer earlier this year.

Allison Barr with daughter Aimie and Jak's Den Patron Neil Alexander. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

Allison Barr with daughter Aimie and Jak's Den Patron Neil Alexander. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

Jak’s mum vowed her son would be looking down with joy as one of his “dreams” had come true. Jak, from Mid Calder, was just 15 years old when he died. After raising £40,000 in his final week for charity, the youngster’s last wish was to open a support centre that would provide a haven for other sick teens and their families.

His mum, Allison Barr, and Jak’s sister, Aimie, were overcome, as loved-ones gathered at Geddes House, Kirkton North, Livingston, to mark the opening of the centre.

Allison said: “When I saw the plans for the first Den that the architect had drawn up, I just cried, it’s absolutely amazing.

“It’s been just over ten months since my boy died and we’ve managed to achieve quite a lot of what was on the list that he wanted.

Jak would just love it. I’d trade it all tomorrow just to have him back, but this is my second best.

Allison Barr

“He’d just love it. I’d trade it all tomorrow just to have him back, but this is my second best.”

Family, friends and community groups have continued to fundraise in the teen’s legacy – raising £137,500 in total. They hope eventually to build a larger Den, that will hold a cafe, sports hall and music and drama rooms.

Jak’s Den will be run through the Team Jak foundation and will provide special counselling and guidance for young people dealing with the trauma of seeing a sibling go through difficult medical treatment – the group is inspired by Jak’s sister, Aimie.

Sitting in the Lilac Room, which she designed, Aimie said: “I got to choose all the furniture for this room so I love it, Jak would too.

Jak's Den opens within Geddes House, Livingston.  Picture: Lisa Ferguson

Jak's Den opens within Geddes House, Livingston. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

“It’s a quiet area people can enjoy.”

Neil Alexander, the patron of the Team Jak foundation, the architect who designed the space, Robert Collin, and Jak’s school friends from West Calder High were among those who gathered for the opening.

courtney.cameron@edinburghnews.com