Little did we know, as we pulled up to the gates of Donnas Dream House in 2006, that this holiday would prove to be one of our most treasured memories of our son Bradley. He had been quite unwell for some time and had spent a lot of time in hospital so when we found out about Donna's Dream House we thought it would be lovely to be able to have some real quality time together as a family, and from the moment we arrived he was a completely different boy.
I remember the first time we took him into the playroom and his eyes just lit up. He couldn't see very well as his eyesight was deteriorating at that time, but he looked up at the train encircling the ceiling and followed it all the way round, his eyes twinkling all the while.
There were so many attractions in Blackpool that Bradley enjoyed. When we went to Blackpool Zoo a monkey jumped into his pram and it tickled his nose with its tail. He rode the little train and for the first time he was allowed to be carefree and got to feel wind in his hair as he watched all the animals as we went by.
He was amazed by the giant turtles swimming in the aquarium of Blackpool Tower and would have watched them for hours. He played in the ball pool at Jungle Jim's like any other child and enjoyed going down the slides with Mummy! The most memorable part of that day was when we took him to the Tower Ballroom, just seeing him sat there so content and quietly listening to the organ music and watching the people as they danced, he was so full of joy.
At the Sealife Centre he got to hold a crab and a starfish in his hand and to touch a ray as it poked its head above the water and in the evening we walked down the front and one of the last things Bradley got to see properly was the magnificent lights of the illuminations.
Blackpool became so special to him after that, so when Bradley passed away in January 2009, aged 3 and a half, we spread some of his ashes off the Central Pier so he could be in the place he loved and had enjoyed so much.
Going to Donnas Dream house was so much more than a holiday, it enabled my son to have all these amazing experiences that we could share with him. It allowed him to be a little boy whose world didn't revolve around hospitals and operations or pain, if only just for a few days. It gave us wonderful memories that we can look back upon and smile at, instead of feeling sad. But most importantly it gave my son back the twinkle in his eye that he kept until the very end and we are so very grateful to Donna as her legacy made all this possible.