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Oliver in his Christmas jumper
Oliver loved visiting Little Harbour with his family and made himself right at home from his very first visit
After Oliver died in November 2019, the Little Harbour team continue to support his brother Benjamin and the family today.

Christmas loving, cheeky chappie Oliver Brown from Plymouth was diagnosed with an extremely rare blood cancer; Myelodysplasia Syndrome, in 2016 and battled with the illness for three years.

Little Harbour children’s hospice became part of Oliver and his family’s journey in summer 2018 after Oliver had gone through two bone marrow transplants and further treatment options were becoming limited.

On Oliver’s first visit to Little Harbour in December 2018, he made himself at home quickly, hosting a Christmas quiz around the dining table for all the staff and other families and sharing his love for Christmas with everyone he met.Oliver and Benjamin by the Christmas tree

During family respite stays at the hospice in 2019, while Oliver was in safe hands with the Care Team Benjamin, Oliver’s younger brother and sidekick, was being supported by the Sibling Team. Experts not only in planning fun activities but also at being an impartial listening ear for a brother who was coming to terms with the reality that Oliver would more than likely die before Christmas.

 “It was a lot for an eight-year-old to deal with and Little Harbour allowed Benjamin to deal with it however he wanted to” Oliver’s Dad Mike said.

Surrounded by his family and the Care Team, Oliver died on 2 November 2019 in his bedroom at Little Harbour.

His family had already put up their Christmas decorations at home - complete with tree, illuminated snowmen and life-size singing Santa in the garden, and a Lego Winter Village complete with moving train - because they knew Oliver wouldn’t be there to experience it in December. 

Mum Nicky explained the support they received at Little Harbour: “They just made everything so easy.

At a time when you don’t know where to look or where to turn or how on earth you are going to get through this horrendous time in your life, they’re there, they hold your hand, they wrap their arms around you and they just take you through it.

Mike added “It was the right place for our family to be; within minutes of Oliver passing away, Benjamin and I were in the ball pool and Benjamin was running into the soft play to take out his frustration. It was a lot for him to deal with but the support he had from the sibling workers was phenomenal. They were able to be there just for him, provide him with opportunities to express himself and be on hand for emotional support too.”

The hospice has maintained regular contact with the family who have greatly appreciated the continued support they have received.

Oliver Brown“The fact that they are still there for us now, we can pick up the phone 24-hours-a-day when we are having a tough time or Benjamin is struggling and they are there. They support us as a whole family it’s not just about the child, it’s the holistic wraparound care. They are like family to us now” Nicky says.

2020 was going to be Benjamin’s year. After so much focus being on his poorly brother, 2020 would see Benjamin pave the new path of his life, with his brother Oliver always in his mind.

As coronavirus started to impact so many of Benjamin’s 2020 plans that he was so looking forward to, the support from Little Harbour was one of the only things that didn’t stop.

“Little Harbour was the golden thread and consistency through it all, be it a zoom call, a driveway visit, a pop down to the garden” Mike explains.

When restrictions lifted in the summer Benjamin, Nicky and Mike were able to return to Little Harbour for a visit to the garden. This gave Benjamin the opportunity to sit in the basket swing where him and Oliver used to sit and swing together. A sibling at Children's Hospice South West

“For Benjamin to be able to sit in that swing on his own was a massive challenge but his strength to be able to do that has come from the support Little Harbour has given him as well as Nicky and myself. It is nothing short of incredible” said Mike.

He continued; “We could never have imagined how to deal with the loss of a child and a big brother in Benjamin’s case. It’s as horrific as you can imagine and some, but the only way we have been able to celebrate Oliver’s life and his wicked sense of humour is because of the crutches that Little Harbour provide us with. We will forever be in debt to them.”

As the family reflect on plans they are making for 2021 Little Harbour remains close in their minds; “The team are fantastic at allowing us to develop and build our lives in the new direction it needs to go without forgetting Oliver” Mike explained.

And I am still sure that if we looked up the definition of ‘perfect’ in a dictionary there would be a photo of Little Harbour.