Brave toddler Kai Laidlaw remembered with others at Leith Christmas tree ceremony
Community recognises people of all ages with personalised baubles
BRAVE toddler Kai Laidlaw was among many people of all ages remembered at a special ceremony which saw personalised baubles hung on the Christmas tree at the foot of Leith Walk.
Kai was three when he lost his battle with leukaemia in January 2016. Diagnosed at just eight months old, Kai endured a series of gruelling treatments and operations, but despite his illness he remained a “brave, jokey and courageous” child.
His mother Pam Laidlaw said she was hanging a bauble on the tree for “my beautiful boy” and other children who had “gained their angel wings”.
The event last night was staged by the Leith Community Fundraising Organisation (LCFO).
Ms Laidlaw said: “It’s a way of remembering our loved ones. It began last year with a wee girl and this year we have well over 100 personalised baubles with people of all ages from the community and turned it into a remembrance tree.
“It’s about the community coming together and it’s a way to shine a positive message on everyone that does good work in the area.
“Everyone knows Kai and that’s how we got involved. He really touched the hearts of everyone. It’s so nice to feel that as a community we still give back through Kai.
Money raised at the event will be shared by Children 1st and Whispers and Light, a charity set up by Ms Laidlaw and Nicola Rendle, mother of 16-year-old Leon Rendle who also died from cancer in 2016.
LCFO also gathered donations of Christmas presents for children who are long-stay patients at the Sick Kids hospital.
Ms Laidlaw paid tribute to LCFO and founder Lorraine Rourke. “They never take any credit, but they must have raised over £100,000 for all different local charities and families over the years. It has been phenomenal.”
Whispers and Light has now raised around £40,000 from various events, including an annual toddlers’ walk organised by LCFO.
And next year it will start giving grants to families of children with a terminal diagnosis.
Ms Laidlaw said: “It’s to give practical support to families at the most horrendous point when you’re at your darkest. We don’t claim to be counsellors - we’re going to set something up separately for that - but we want to help guide people when they’re at their weakest.”
She said they would help meet costs faced by families and also funeral costs.
“There’s so many fantastic charities that do many things, but we’re there more at the end when families really struggling and the practicalities that come with that are all very expensive. We found there wasn’t as much support when Kai gained his angel wings.
“Some charities - and I don’t blame them - want to focus on the positive, which is brilliant. But there is also a flip to that where no-one wants to approach that subject - and that’s where we want to come in. We want to be able to talk to the families when that period is coming up and help to guide them. When it comes down to it there isn’t a lot of help there when a child passes.”