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Tom by Claire

Tom and Claire ski-ing

Tom and Claire on a ski trip.

By Tom’s Mum, Claire

Tom was my first born child. He was under-weight and rather scrawny and the first few months passed in a hazy blur of crying – from him and me. But soon the crying turned into laughter and that is one of the things I will always associate with him – huge belly laughs, giggles, smiles, a truly sunny boy with a sunny presence.

You always knew when Tom was around – he was loud, fidgety, chatty, at the centre of the action. A sociable, gregarious boy whose after-school diary was fully booked.

When I think of Tom – which I do every day – I remember the noise… Football boots being thrown on to the floor, computer games being played very loudly, shouting up and down the stairs. Yes, you always knew when Tom was around.

Tom

“Truly sunny”

He could be quiet though. He loved books and would spend hours on holiday reading endlessly, the latest Antony Horowitz, Michael Morpurgo, Harry Potter of course. He would be totally absorbed.

He also spent a lot of time writing: plays, poems, stories. He had a huge imagination and loved to create characters. Every holiday was spent with the family – including grandparents – acting out one of Tom’s plays, often adaptations of his favourite books. These could often last several hours but they were always fun.

Tom in "There'll Always Be a Brentford"

Tom in “There’ll Always Be a Brentford”. Picture courtesy of Questors Youth Theatre, Ealing.

As much as writing plays, he also enjoyed acting in them and he was a keen actor at Questors Theatre in Ealing.  Just before he died he was in a play, “There’ll Always Be a Brentford”. It required attention and focus, something he occasionally lacked, but he succeeded in the role and I thought there would be many more.

Sport was a huge part of his life too – playing football from the age of five and watching on the TV; that was something he did with his Dad. They shared the agony and sometimes the highs of supporting Spurs, Brentford and England.

Tom and Drayton footie

Drayton footie.

Family life was key to Tom – he was a year and a half older than his sister Ellen and they were close. Tom was the glue at extended family events such as Christmas and Easter.

So at 14 he was on the cusp of adult life. He was a sensitive boy and would ask me lots of questions, about relationships, about sex, about death. He would talk about the gap year he was planning to have when he was 18 when he would travel round the world (We hadn’t discussed the funding!).

I was confident that he would grasp the future with both hands and throw himself into it with the enthusiasm with which he greeted nearly every moment of his life.

It was not to be. He died just before his fifteenth birthday. I am left with the memories – of ferocious hugs, sparkling smiles, endless debates and discussions. And at the hardest moments I hear him still, urging me to “come on Clairey” and somehow I do.

  • There were many lovely words spoken said about Tom. This poem by family friend Jim Ballantyne symbolises the fine tributes paid in words while the actions of Tom’s football club, Hanwell Town, were particularly poignant for a boy who loved the game.

Claire died in December, 2014. She managed to “come on Clairey” despite suffering from a heart condition herself, which was only diagnosed after Tom’s death. You can read a tribute to Claire here.

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