Jo's story

Jo Penniston Full Story Quote

I wish you knew that without EACH, I wouldn’t have coped or got through the death of my son. I’d hit rock bottom. My world was crumbling around me and the only thing that kept me going was the support I received from our counsellor, Andy Jaggard. He was my knight in shining armour. He saved me and it’s no exaggeration to say I wouldn’t have got through it otherwise.

My son, Archie, was born 13 weeks early in January 2014. We weren’t sure if he’d survive because he had chronic lung disease, among other complex health needs. Things then took a turn for the worst and that’s when we were put in touch with Andy. From the moment we met, I felt a weight lifted from my shoulders because I was suddenly blessed with his support, both in hospital and at the hospice. Life wasn’t easy, to say the least, but it was suddenly that bit more bearable.


Amazingly, Archie kept fighting and, after eight months, we were allowed to bring him home. However, after another month, he had to be admitted back to hospital after catching a cold. His body wasn’t strong enough to ward it off and he died at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, in September 2014.

It was devastating, obviously. However, Andy was always there for me, either in person or on the end of a phone, and told me about the ways I could be supported by EACH. He also said that thanks to special cooling mattresses, it would be possible for Archie’s body to be transferred to Quidenham.

In the days that followed, we spent some beautiful, precious time together and it completely changed my perception of a children’s hospice. Before, I thought they were just places where babies, children and young people went to die. In reality, it’s a beautiful place with beautiful staff and beautiful facilities.

I also wish you knew that some people don’t know how to speak to bereaved parents. They walk on eggshells and don’t know what to say, but we’re always happy to talk about Archie. If anyone asks if I have children, I say I have one in heaven and one on earth, because I don’t want him to forgotten or dismissed.

In my mind, he’s still very much with us – we visit his grave and talk about him all the time, including to my two-year-old son, Rupert. When we drive past the churchyard, Rupert shouts ‘hello Archie’. He’ll always be my son and always part of my life.

Jo Penniston, Archie’s mum

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