Ely Hero Alison Fitt talks about the pain of grief, life after losing a child and raising thousands for charity
PUBLISHED: 11:28 23 July 2019 | UPDATED: 11:33 23 July 2019
"You never think that you will be in that position - the grief you feel is immeasurable."
The words of Alison Fitt, from Soham, are a reminder that the death of child is something no parent should ever have to face.
But since her brave son Charlie passed away in June 2017, the 48-year-old has gone on to raise more than £26,000 for charity.
Just last month, in our Ely Hero Awards, she was crowned Ely Hero, but humbly, she says she "doesn't feel like a hero".
That statement would no doubt be disputed among her Strong Soham Mums group who posed naked for the 2019 charity calendar in the tasteful style of the award-winning Calendar Girls film.
"The idea just come to my mind one night when I was in bed thinking about all the women I know who have lost a child in Soham," Alison said.
"For so much grief to come from a Cambridgeshire town it is quite unreal.
"I had a neighbour who had lost a child, another friend around the corner and others who I heard of - I knew we would be able to find 12 women.
"I am not afraid to take my clothes off and I don't care what other people think about me, so I thought the calendar would be the perfect way to raise money."
Alison's son Charlie was just 15 when he passed away in Great Ormond Street Children's Hospital from a rare immune condition called LRBA deficiency, five months after receiving a bone marrow transplant.
He was loving boy, who like any other teenager enjoyed playing on his Xbox with younger brother Alfie and watching 'I'm a Celebrity…' on television.
Coming from a close-knit family, he often spent time with grandparents going fishing and playing games.
"Charlie could always laugh at himself and loved being with his friends and sharing the Xbox with Alfie or sticking a DVD on," Alison said.
"When he was born he had problems with his kidneys, then throughout primary school he had chest infections but nothing out the ordinary.
"He gradually got worse and then we knew something serious was up.
"Once a month he would go for treatment at Addenbrooke's Hospital then he had the bone marrow transplant.
"I knew we had to give him the chance despite how horrible it was to see him go through the treatment."
But grief is ever-changing and Alison and her husband Darren now have to take each day at a time to not be swept away in the emotions.
"I sometimes wish people could just feel a bit of my pain to understand what I'm going through with grief," she adds.
"You can't describe it unless you're in it.
"You build yourself up to the date of their birthday, Christmas, the anniversary of their death.
"The fact that you will always remember them at the age they were when they died."
Charlie would have turned 18 the week that Alison was crowned Ely Hero and she now visits his grave everyday to share a few moments with him.
She continued: "People are well-meaning but sometimes they don't realise what they are saying, and say such things like 'have you had a nice Christmas?' or moan about their children and coughs and colds - simple things that I can't do with Charlie anymore."
Alison was nominated for her award by a nurse at Addenbrooke's, Sade Chambers, who had been with Charlie when he went through his treatment.
Throughout the next year Alison will go on to represent the Ely Hero Awards at a host of prestigious events across Cambridgeshire.
But most importantly, her Strong Soham Mums were right behind her to champion her following her win.
"I would love to do something with them again and we keep in touch because we are such a support for each other.
"Alfie is at that age where he's embarrassed to see his mum stripped for a calendar on the kitchen wall," she laughed.
"We even thought about doing a male version of the calendar, but I don't think my husband was that keen on it!
"We never did this to get recognition, I just wanted to raise money for charity, but to think that we have helped so many other people following the loss of a child is quite simply amazing."