Book published in memory of daughter spreads her name around the world
PUBLISHED: 20:32 21 December 2017 | UPDATED: 10:04 28 December 2017
The death of two teenage girls at a level crossing in Elsenham just before Christmas 12 years ago, has inspired a book of photographs from all over the world to raise money for a child bereavement charity.
Charlie (Charlotte) Thompson aged 13 and Liv (Olivia) Bazlinton, 14, were hit by an express train on December 3, 2005. They had set off to go to Cambridge for Christmas shopping.
Write Charlie, published on Monday, December 18, is a book of photographs of the name Charlie written in stones or held up in signs in places including Mombasa and Mount Kilimanjaro. There are 151 photographs written on beaches, in trees, and on balloons hanging over 1,000 foot gorges and even under water in the Red Sea. Sales of the book will help children, across the UK who have suffered bereavement, many of whom face long years of anxiety, nightmares and post traumatic stress. Most of us take it for granted that the people we love who we say goodbye to in the morning will still be there at the end of the day and we don’t even think about it. Once someone has died, especially in a sudden accident, that peace of mind is destroyed.
But the book, which began with a spontaneous gesture of a family friend, could now help children who have suddenly lost siblings or parents. The patrons of the charity, Child Bereavement UK, include Prince William.
Six months after the Charlie died, a friend of her parents, Hilary and Reg, was on holiday in the Gobi Desert in Mongolia and wrote Charlie’s name in stones.
Reg, said: “She took a photograph of the stones and showed us. That was such a lovely thing to do.”
The following year, a website was set up inviting people to write Charlie’s name wherever they went in the world. Reg said: “Charlie was desperate to travel. I asked people to write Charlie’s name in whichever way they saw fit and to send a photograph to our website. We never imagined how the WriteCharliesname concept would capture imaginations. It started slowly but over 11 years, there were 300 photographs taken in 80 countries. I hoped that one day, we could publish the pictures for charity. The book was crowd-funded. We began in August this year and it cost £5,000.”
After Charlie died, life was never the same again for her brother Harry, who was 11 at the time (and has designed the book) and her brother Robbie who was 15.
Reg said: “The charity focuses on surviving siblings. Our daughter died violently. Brothers and sisters will always have the fear that this will happen to them or to their parents.
“If I go out, my sons don’t know if they will see me again. My oldest son is 27 but if I don’t hear from him for a day, I can’t bear it and that is tough on him. Children who have lost people have a sense of permanent anxiety and the most appalling nightmares.”
Reg, who teaches film studies at Colchester Institute said: “Child Bereavement UK provides counselling and just having people who will listen means so much, just being able to voice those fears.”
But he says Write Charlie is not a sad book. “It is to celebrate happiness, people are smiling in the pictures. We think people are mean and selfish but people are pretty special really. Most people are wonderful. The book is a memorial to our lost daughter, a celebration of the human spirit, a demonstration of trying to create something positive out of adversity and means to raise money for a very worthwhile charity.”
Write Charlie, is available on Amazon, £12.99 or from the link: YPD Books - WriteCharlie: An Incredible Journey in Pictures.