Brother’s touching tribute to cancer mum by wearing short through the winter after dad struggled with school run
By Harriet Whitehead
Two young brothers have paid a touching tribute to their late mum by wearing shorts throughout the winter after their dad who struggled to contend with the school run had to become both parents.
Tom Mayoh, 10, and Jack Mayoh, eight, are wearing their school shorts throughout the cold winter – braving freezing temperatures to raise £6,000 for East Lancashire Hospice which cared for their mum Louise Mayoh in the final weeks before she died in July aged just 39.
After her death dad Gareth Mayoh, 44, had to take on responsibility for getting the boys ready for school – sending them on their way in shorts even as the temperature started to drop and other kids wore longer trousers.
When he mentioned his error to the boys they joked that they’d like to keep wearing shorts as a tribute to their late mum and as a way of raising more for the hospice.
Gareth, from Darwen, Lancashire, said: “Louise used to look after the boys in the morning and get them ready for school.
“She did it all, she bought the uniforms and washed them and if it was a bit cold she’d get their longer trousers out.
“It was quite a new experience for me.
“It had started to get colder and I noticed some of the other kids were wearing trousers. I mentioned it to the boys and Jack said ‘I might try and keep mine on’ and I thought maybe they could get sponsored to do it.
“It’s good for us all as it takes their mind off it and gives them a sense of purpose.
“People are not feeling sorry for them as much. When you lose someone people give you a ‘what a shame’ look. With this it’s like it’s given them another identity.”
The mum-of-two was diagnosed with breast cancer in May 2015 and the family kept it a secret from Tom and Jack – only telling them as she became ill in the last few weeks.
After a couple of weeks in hospital Louise was transferred to the East Lancashire Hospice where she died surrounded by her family on July 13.
Engineer and businessman Gareth said: “I was with Louise for 22 years and married for 16. We did everything together. She was a fantastic mum and we loved travelling together.
“She was the life and soul of the party. She was always smiling and was really hard working and ambitious. She knew what she wanted.
“When she got ill it didn’t stop her doing anything. She just carried on. She didn’t stop until about six weeks before she died. She was taking the kids to school as normal and never complained.
“We kept it a secret for as long as we could. Louise was keen that we didn’t tell the children.
“She wanted them to have their childhood and be themselves. If they’d known she was ill they might have acted differently around her.
“When she was admitted to hospital we told them. They understood why we’d decided to keep it a secret and were completely grown up about it.”
Tom and Jack still visit the hospice every Wednesday where they’re making memory boxes.
Gareth said: “The hospice was fantastic and that’s why we wanted to do this.
“It feels like we got extra time with her and that was possible because of them.
“She fell asleep and just slipped away. Telling the boys was horrendous. It was the worst thing I’ve ever had to do but I just had to do it.
“The boys have their moments, but they’re so grown up.
“We talk about Louise all the time as a family and are always looking at photographs. There’s nothing off the table and anything they want to ask they can do.”
Tom said: “We are wearing our shorts for school all winter for the East Lancashire Hospice because they looked after our Mum so well.
“We know it’s not going to be easy, especially if it snows and when it is really cold and icy, but the thought of all the money that is going to be raised will keep us going.”Brother’s touching tribute to cancer mum by wearing short through the winter after dad struggled with school run