James Duell raising funds for Thorpe Hall in memory of mum

James Duell with the Sue Ryder tree at Casterton College. EMN-141012-162229009
James Duell with the Sue Ryder tree at Casterton College. EMN-141012-162229009
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An ‘inspiring’ 12-year-old boy is raising vital funds this Christmas in loving memory of his mum Michelle, who sadly passed away from cancer in October.

James Duell, a Year 8 pupil at Casterton Business and Enterprise College, has already raised £600 for the Thorpe Hall Hospice, in memory of his mum who sadly died on October 8.

James, from Exton, said: “I chose to help Thorpe Hall as they helped to look after mum and they were there for us when we needed them.”

Mum of four, Michelle Beniston, aged 33, spent her last few weeks being cared for at the Thorpe Hall 
Hospice.

The hospice helped support James and his siblings, Dylan, nine, Megan, six, and Martha, four months, during their mum’s illness.

James said: “After mum passed away, the ladies at Thorpe Hall did different activities with us each week. We made a salt memory jar with each layer representing mum and we also made memory boxes which I decorated with a picture of me and mum in the middle.”

James and his siblings filled their memory boxes with different things that reminded them of their mum, including a dove which she gave them, photos, a poster and memories.

Since then, James and his brother Dylan have set themselves the target of raising £1,000 for Thorpe Hall by organising a number of fundraising activities at school, including hosting a Lights of Love tree.

James’ tutor group at Casterton Business and Enterprise College have all joined in to support him.

On Wednesday the school held a tinsel day, with all of the pupils and teachers wearing tinsel and donating to Thorpe Hall, so far raising £300.

Dylan also held a tinsel day at St Nicholas Primary School in Cottesmore, which he attends. Rutland County College who also joined in the festive fundraising.

James said: “Hopefully we will raise lots of money from tinsel day, seeing as we have had lots of schools taking part.

“Everyone at school has supported me, especially Mrs Goddard and my close friends from primary and nursery, who are helping.”

The Lights of Love tree is taking pride of place in the school corridor, with lots of baubles carrying messages of support, so far raising £35.

James also held a Christmas card sale with his friends raising over £50, with all of the cards selling out on the night.

Liz Goddard, James’ Tutor at school, said: “It’s such a horrible thing that he’s had to go through, but everyone at the school including his tutor group have been here to support him.

“He’s a real inspiration to us all, and it’s something that touches everyone to see how well he is dealing with it.

“James has been brilliant and the fundraising has helped to be a real focus.”

James hopes to carry on with the fundraising and has already made plans to do a sponsored bike ride in the new year.

He added: “I think my mum would think it’s awesome, she would be proud.”

Hospice fundraiser Kirsty Clipston said: “We were honoured to be able to provide the care which Michelle needed and to be able to support her family, including James.

“He’s been in to visit us a couple of times and his enthusiasm for fundraising in memory of his mum is just wonderful to see.

“He’s very modest but everyone here at Thorpe Hall who met the family is so proud of what he’s doing.”

To donate to James’ appeal visit http://michelle.beniston.muchloved.com/