Five (plus Two)

Happy 7th Birthday to our beautiful, invisible boy!

Kip was born at City Hospital on the 3rd of May 2016; a date he and we got used to repeating over and over again with every procedure and medication – “Can you confirm his fullname?” and “what’s his date of birth?” were much more fun when Kip answered it.

Before he was born, we didn’t know what his name would be, so we referred to him as Haggis. I remember Millie being so excited to have a little brother or sister, she would speak to him in his mother’s tummy all the time, watching his movements and anticipating cuddles.

When he was born, we came back from the hospital about 8am. Sarah headed for the house first, to give Millie a big hug. Millie pushed right past her, stood in the front door and yelled out to the street “DADDY, WHERE’S HAGGIS?!”

Millie was just a few days from her 3rd birthday when Kip arrived in our world.

Today is the second birthday since he died. Some people say it gets easier with time; I don’t think so. It’s just different. We’re still having a party in the park, around the memorial tree. On Saturday we’ll head out to the countryside where his ashes were buried and have another celebration, probably a lot sadder than today.

So far today, we’ve been blessed with sunshine and clear skies. The blossom is in the trees, the birds are singing, the house has the burbling of a baby and Millie’s steadily-improving drumming to keep us busy.

There’s a lot going on, but there’s still a hole at the middle we’re all circling around, an unavoidable void.

Happy Birthday Kip, we miss you so much.


October 13th

Smiles and applause all round.

Today should be a good day, a day we celebrate with a party and cakes and balloons and streamers and lively music and friends and presents.

We should be reminiscing about a rough journey with a recovered 6 year-old who’s looking forward to explaining it to his little baby brother.

We should be taking Kip swimming, seeing a healed scar from his central lines and breathing a sigh of relief that he’s through the most awful ordeal.

All these should-be’s, tokens of a future that never happened and never will.

Today is two years since Kip rang the End Of Treatment bell after his last lumbar puncture, and the wonderful team who cared for him applauded him.

Four hours later, the results of that lumbar puncture showed the leukaemia had returned to his spine and brain, and that set us on an inevitable course of radiation, stem cell transplant and coin-toss odds of survival.

After some encouraging early signs, Kip got home in March 2020 for some precious months with Millie, Mummy and me.

He got another birthday (we’d had an emergency four-and-a-half celebration the previous November too) that, despite Covid restrictions we could celebrate with some distanced visits and time in the park.

A sudden fascination for excavators meant extra chocolate, new toys and big smiles!

He got to go to his great-granny’s house one more time and slide down the stairs on his bum with his sister – a family tradition his aunt and I enjoyed some decades ago.

Soft landing optional…

And then, suddenly, this damned stupid virus triggered a rare complication of stem cell transplants; lumps appeared throughout his brain and other organs. They didn’t respond to treatment and in a staggeringly short time Kip lost the ability to walk, speak, drink and in just a few days we held him close as his beautiful eyes, his beautiful smile, his wonderful, loving soul left his body.

His funeral followed and on October 13th 2021 we buried his ashes under an apple tree in Staffordshire.

October 13th was meant to be a celebration, but we mourn it instead.

October 13th is a Should-Be day.


Oh poop

We were very excited about our upcoming bike ride through Wales…

Here’s a boy who loved his bicycle!

We had to put in a big delay from our original June date because some nasty people stole some bikes. And getting a replacement wasn’t as easy as nipping to Halfords – supply chain problems of Brexit and Covid and the general awkwards of the Universe meant a delay to 19th August.

Hotels and campsites booked, support vehicles organised, nearly 20% of our fundraising target achieved, just about to book some train tickets and…

We have Long Covid on the team.

We have a leg injury.

We have a back injury.

We have… another delay.

We’re all pretty upset, but we’re a team and we go together or we don’t go at all.

So, with our apologies but massive gratitude for your support so far, we have another delay.

April 2023, and we’re doing this thing even if my limbs are falling off and the Sun has gone dark!

Until then, time to get a bit more training in…

Forever, #TeamKip.

A Year

Such joy, such love, such a beautiful boy.

Today, 8th July, is the worst of all days; it marks one year since our joyful, hilarious, smart, loving, beautiful boy died.

He is dead.

The daily horror of that thought amplified by the recurrence of this date. Everything around is the same; the blueberries ripening, the sun shines and the birds sing, neighbours work on their gardens, cricket in the park.


It is too horrible to be real. It should not be real. It cannot be real. But it is.

I spent yesterday picking out pictures to pass around at our picnic this evening. Bittersweet memories bring small sparks of happiness remembering our time together, though each spark burns on contract and there’s an urge to recoil and lock them all away. A powerful emotion is building and the body wants to run from it, sink into the anaesthetic distraction of TikTok or television just so that time passes.

Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
To the last syllable of recorded time

Macbeth. Always good for a chuckle…

Today we will visit Kip’s grave, introduce him to his baby brother Arlo.

We will sing his favourite songs, tell his favourite jokes and eat his favourite fig rolls.

I will pass pictures around, and remind everyone what he says, what he did, how he lived, and danced, and occupied our hearts.

We will mourn, as we mourn everyday, but today in our tears and our hurt, we will remember that for five short years a small part of the universe manifested itself as our son.

Progress in Pedals

Yesterday was a good training session, covering 28 miles in a couple of hours. Felt very positive and then…

Well, smart technology has its uses but sometimes there’s a bit too much information. You can easily end up staring at your pulse rate stressing about it being so high, which makes it harder to relax which keeps your pulse high which…

In the evening four of us riders had a great Zoom chat and sorted the route out, and some of the accommodation too.

Day One we’ll set off from Cardiff to Brecon, just over 50 miles.

Day Two is Brecon to Macynlleth, an altogether more challenging 75 miles and thousands of feet up.

Day Three from Macynlleth to Porthmadog, which will be “easier”.

Day four we finish with a long day through Caernarfon, Bangor, across Anglesey to Holyhead

Might need a beer after that…

Please click on our GoFundMe and support our foolish adventure!

Challenge un-underway!

It’s the 13th of June so we should be nearly finished our ride through Wales, right?

So why am I sitting in Birmingham?

Well, there’s a bit of a story to that… Several of our riders (four!) have contracted Covid of various severity in the last couple of months which has really impacted their ability to train.

And Kip’s auntie was burgled and her bike is currently on a dodgy website in Poland!

Until there’s a new bike and some fully-recovered lungs, we’re postponing the challenge to 19th-22nd August.

Oh, and we had a baby too.

Kip’s little brother, Arlo Jack, was born in mid-May so we’re trying to reintroduce the concept of sleep into the home…

You can support our fundraising here, follow us on Strava, and keep in touch on Twitter.

Find out more about our chosen charity Love The One.

Get a t-shirt and share your love of Smelly Pants Wee here!

Thanks all for your support and help.

2022 Fundraiser Challenge! love a challenge here at Team Kip and, after the runaway success of our fundraiser last year, we decided to do something special this year.

There’s two things to tell you about; the challenge and the cause…

The Challenge

A group of intrepid and adventurous cyclists are riding from Cardiff to Holyhead, a distance of 220 miles. We’re travelling as a pack, and might even have Kip’s big sister Millie along for part of it.

We depart on Friday 10th June after breakfast, and finish the following Monday on the gorgeous island of Anglesey, probably in need of a bath!

The Cause

We care a lot about children and, as we’ve said innumerable times before, no child should miss out because of where they were born. That’s why we were so passionate about our fundraising for Equalize Health and World Child Cancer.

This year, we are supporting an amazing charity in India called Love The One.

They undertake some inspiring and life-changing work with children from the most impoverished and vulnerable backgrounds, caring for them holistically with education, nutrition, healthcare and supporting families and communities.

We’ll be talking a lot more about the challenge and the cause in future posts, but for now please click on the links to learn more.

The Goal

And here’s the important bit – how much?

We’ve got a fundraising target of £10,000; that will mean a world of difference to so many children.

How To Help

You can follow us on Strava to see how the riders and supporters are getting on.

Make sure you follow @TeamKipUK and @LTOIndia on Twitter and share some encouragement! Don’t forget to use #TeamKip.

Our fundraising page is right here, off to a strong start already!

Half a year

Having hot chocolate at Wendy’s, just over a year ago.

Six months ago today we held Kip for the last time.

It’s equal parts unreal, unbearable horror, distraction, desperate sadness and laughing about the wonderful things he did.

To be honest, it’s tough to know how to move forward. Life continues, the universe moves on with callous disregard for our loss. Dear friends gather close and share their memories of him. Sometimes we even talk about him as if he’s in the next room. Every night I put my hand on his Batman onesie and say goodnight, tell him I love him. I carry a gram of his ashes in a pendant round my neck. We are reminded that he lives on in our hearts. But…

But he’s still gone, still dead, still in a box under a tree in Shropshire.

He’s not where he should be. And as the reality of that hits (several times a day), our throats tighten, eyes tear up and the waves of sadness break over us.

If time is a healer, it takes more than six months…

We are so grateful for everything that continues in his name. The fundraising has been astonishing, and we know that so many lives will be saved because of it. It makes us giggle that people walk around with “Smelly Pants Wee” on their t-shirts.

But bloody hell we’d give everything up to have him here with us.

Thanks for supporting us on this horrible journey.


Singalong silliness

Here’s a little bit of Christmas cheer for everyone.

Kip loved singing along to loads of tunes, but You’ll Be Back from Hamilton was quite a favourite.

We filmed this a year ago, just as the worst effects of steroids were wearing off and we were anticipating a long, long admission for stem cells.

Now it’s our first Christmas without him, so we keep sharing memories and laughter and awesome videos. Keep speaking about him, even if it brings tears. He lives on as long as he’s remembered.

Have a Merry Christmas. Or just have a Christmas.


Five months

Music is really important. It always has been, but more so right now.

Music has power.

It’s a catalyst for working out all kinds of emotions, remembering happy times and sad times, hard times, car times, calming times and crises.

I’m stuck on a song – The Night Will Always Win by Elbow. This tune is one I knew about for a while – as one of those extras between the songs you really like on an album, most often skipped.

Elbow – the night will always win

Now though, it has new meaning, a richness, and that quality of great songwriting that makes it sound like it’s was written for you. It almost doesn’t matter who Guy Garvey was thinking about when he wrote the song, it’s mine now! A connection in the tone and the lyrics that surgically, precisely states how life is.

“I miss your stupid face…” he laments; “I try to clothe you’re bones with scratchy Super 8s, exaggerated stories and old tunes”

This is where I am, living this refrain in hourly cycles between housework and keeping Millie busy.

I talk to his photograph, stroke my fingers across his Batman onesie folded on his bed, hug Rabbit, cook his favourite dinner, smell the dried flowers from his funeral. Emotions stick to objects as much as to sounds. Each pass, each touch and memory carries a charge that builds and builds until a song or sound or smell or sense suddenly grounds me and the high voltage reality of Kip’s absence shocks a crippling assault.

Days pass of these sequences, becoming months. What can be done? The universe carries on. We carry on.

Sometimes we almost feel like we’re ok…