A MUM whose daughter died aged 13 is sharing her story to help raise funds for the hospice which supported her family, as it approaches the 10-year anniversary of her death.

Tamara Weatherhead was born 26 weeks premature in 1997, weighing just 1lb 14 oz, and her parents, Claire and Chris, were told to expect the worst.

But their daughter, who had epilepsy and cerebral palsy, battled against all odds and survived into childhood.

Sadly, Tamara died aged just 13-years-old on August 26, 2010.

Claire said Naomi House Hospice really supported her family during this difficult time, offering Tamara a place in their bereavement suite, the Butterfly Room, after her death, to allow the whole family a chance to say goodbye.

The 40-year-old from Basingstoke, who has five other children, has shared her story to help Naomi House Hospice raise funds.

As it approaches a decade since she lost her eldest child, Claire said: “Every year gets harder. This year with it being 10 years we are looking to release some butterflies on the day.”

She added: “I don’t like a new year because it’s like going through a door that we can never come back to. Every year we go through we are leaving behind another year without Tamara and making that gap of time since she was here bigger and bigger.”

She described Tamara as having “the biggest and best personality”, adding: “She was very loving and used to laugh at the silliest of things. She couldn’t answer you with words but she answered with expressions and would communicate with her eyes. Her smiles would just draw you in.”

She added: “To have her for so long when we were told that she would only live 24/48 hours, was amazing.”

Tamara couldn’t walk or sit up and was fed via a tube.

Claire, a care agency manager, said: “My daughter suffered all her life and we were in and out of hospital with her for three months before she passed away.”

Tamara died in Basingstoke hospital, before being taken to the bereavement suite at Naomi House Hospice, where her family personalised the room, bringing in items from home.

“We stayed for just over a week and the children stayed for four nights,” explained Claire, adding: “We had friends and family who came to visit Tamara to say goodbye. One friend thought it was beautiful and another friend found it difficult, which I can understand. It doesn’t suit everyone.

“Being able to use the Butterfly room made a massive difference to us, because up until the point we lost Tamara, I was actually scared of death. It helped me realise that death is not as frightening as I had thought. That not only gave me peace about the whole thing, and not just Tamara.”

Claire said Naomi House also helped arrange Tamara’s funeral, as well as contact friends and family.

Basingstoke Gazette: A white horse-drawn carriage takes Tamara Weatherhead's coffin to St Michael's Church

“We put off arranging Tamara’s funeral, because who wants to arrange their child’s funeral? So the hospice helped us out. If the Butterfly room wasn’t there, we wouldn’t have been able to spend time with her properly. It was nice for all of us to be around her and the hospice really supported us.”

Naomi House also offered support to Claire and Chris’ other children, speaking to them when they needed comforting and explaining what was happening.

Claire thanked the hospice, in Sutton Scotney, and hopes her story will encourage others to donate funds to help it continue its support for other families.

“They are amazing. We are so grateful for all the support they gave us,” she said.

To donate to Naomi House Hospice visit https://www.naomihouse.org.uk/support-us/donation.