A FATHER has thanked staff at Chailey Heritage Foundation for transforming the life of his late son by running a half marathon in his memory.
Richard Crunden, 36, of High Hurst Close, Newick, defied strong winds and rain to complete the Brighton race with sister Debby Scull, 38, from Horsham.
He has so far raised £680 for Chailey Heritage Foundation, based in Haywards Heath Road, North Chailey, where son Theo spent three years as a pupil from 2014 to 2017.
Theo sadly died aged just five in 2017, but Richard says his family hold so many positive memories of their son’s short life.
Richard said: “Chailey Heritage has a special place in the heart of our family. My son, Theo, benefited so much from being there and it was a place where he had some of his happiest times, with a team of exceptional people who knew him and truly brought out the best in him.
“I can’t speak highly enough of the staff at Chailey Heritage who supported Theo while he was there. We often look back at pictures and videos of his time at Chailey Heritage and if we can help in any small way to make sure other kids have just as much fun and develop as much as Theo did, then this will go some way towards leaving a lasting legacy for Theo.”
Theo received catastrophic brain damage at birth after a complicated caesarean section. He was starved of oxygen for a long period and resuscitated twice. He then had pneumonia but survived.
Sadly, he died unexpectedly in October 2017.
Mum Lucy, 35, said: “He really was the bravest soul I have ever met. He had quadriplegic cerebral palsy, was registered severely visually impaired and could not eat orally; his swallow was too unsafe.
“He suffered daily. Even with more than ten medications, his seizures, spasms and dystonia plagued his every move yet he still smiled. He tried so hard to lift his arm or extend a finger, but this always resulted in an incredibly painful spasm and seizure.
“When he cried out in pain, I was taken back to his birth and the horror we went through. This happened to Theo hundreds of times a day, yet still he smiled.”
The family, who run a cooling systems company in Horsham, have been fundraising for charities which support disabled young people.
Richard explained: “It is great to help other children in Theo’s memory. He really did have a great time at Chailey Heritage.
“The Brighton Half Marathon gave me a lot of time to think about him and we have some lovely memories of him in Brighton too.
“His communication skills really came on when he was at Chailey Heritage. There were some terrific staff who were able to give him some superb one to one support, and there’s no doubt that it helped him massively.
“I would describe it as full rounded support for Theo provided by Chailey Heritage Foundation.
“We had no expectation he would die when he did, and it was such a shock.
“Now I am determined to help other families in similar positions.”
The couple have two other children, Mabel, aged five, and Flora, two.
Every penny raised will support the children and young people at Chailey Heritage Foundation to fulfil their potential. If you wish to donate to Richard’s fundraising, please visit: https://www.justgiving.com/