Former Northampton teacher to launch charity helping grieving children after her daughter, 5, died

Aimee wants to honour her daughter’s memory by helping children who have lost a friend to cope with grief

Monday, 3rd May 2021, 7:00 am
Olivia Wood died at the age of five last year.

A former Northampton teacher has begun the process to launch a charity in her daughter’s name, who was known for her big smile.

Aimee Wood who used to teach at Harpole Primary School and Weedon Bec Primary School, wants to help children who are grieving following the death of a friend or classmate.

Olivia, Aimee’s daughter, who had a heart condition, died unexpectedly in February 2020 at the age of five following surgery complications. Olivia's kidneys were donated to adult women and the young girl went on to save two lives.

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Students and staff at Weedon Bec school held a smile day for Olivia last year before lockdown was introduced.

Following Olivia’s death, Aimee saw the effect it had on her classmates and other children who knew her, as well as the difficulties it caused teachers and parents who were unsure of what to tell Olivia’s friends.

So now, in her daughter’s memory, Aimee wants to launch a charity called ‘Olivia’s Smile’, which will provide grieving young children and schools the resources to deal with a death in their class.

Aimee, who taught in Northamptonshire for 21 years and now lives in Nottingham, said: “Olivia’s death had a huge impact on the school where I taught as well as her own school.

“She had a huge impact on so many people so I owe it to her to bring her smile through sadness to others.

“I talked to children and parents after and I recognised that there is a huge gap in knowing what to do when there has been a death in the school community.

“It’s really needed as there is nothing else like it out there.

“I know that it is something that could make a difference to children if people are brave enough to talk about death. Kids need honesty.”

Aimee is just starting the process to set up the organisation and to form as a registered charity, but once the practicalities are sorted she hopes to use her experience as a teacher to visit schools where there has been a childhood death to help classmates cope.

For children, Aimee plans to use resources and activities to help them understand what has happened, providing honesty, and for teachers she intends to offer guidance and support about how to deal with the death, for example when to remove the child’s name from the register or coat peg.

The 41-year-old added: “I have set this up on the back of recognising the impact that death has on very young children.

“Parents do not always know what to say but children need to understand so they don’t grow up thinking children who have died haven't actually died and have actually become stars.

“I have had people reach out to me to say they lost someone when they were young, that they didn’t understand it at the time and that it still affects them now.

“People think that kids can’t cope with the concept of death, but I want to be able to help the ones who have to deal with it.”

Aimee is underway with setting up the charity and has trustees in place already, however the process is expensive so she has set up an online fundraiser to help with costs and to get the charity off to a good start. She is also planning a big fundraiser later in the year.

To support Aimee’s charity and to donate, visit her JustGiving page here. Search 'OliviaSmileUK' on Facebook to find out more about the cause.

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