Family’s heartbreak as ‘beautiful’ boy, 11, dies in sleep to little brother singing

In a heart-wrenching tale of perseverance and love, a family from Skelmersdale, Lancashire, faced an unimaginable journey as their beloved 11-year-old boy, Kalel Woodward, succumbed to a puzzling and devastating condition. Struggling to comprehend the loss of their vibrant son, the Woodward family’s story sheds light on the incredible strength that can be found in the face of the darkest of days.

Kalel’s life began seemingly full of promise, but at the tender age of three months, doctors became concerned when he struggled to lift his head—an unsettling sign of things to come. Tragedy struck again when he was just two and a half years old, experiencing a severe seizure that lasted a staggering 13 hours. The medical team diagnosed him with a catastrophic brain injury, revealing that half of his precious brain matter had been lost. Despite the harrowing prognosis, the indomitable spirit of young Kalel prevailed, and he was placed on medication for seizures and relied on peg feeding for sustenance.

The journey that lay ahead for Kalel and his devoted parents, Paul and Kelly, was fraught with challenges. Their little warrior endured frequent bone fractures, seizures, and chest infections, all stemming from the mysterious condition that gripped his fragile body. By the time he reached the age of four, his parents were told to prepare for the worst, but Kalel’s strength and resilience defied all odds as he fought on for another six years.

Kalel’s vibrant spirit touched the lives of those around him, especially his brothers Jake, 11, and Louie, 6. Together, they created cherished memories at Derian House Children’s Hospice in Chorley, where Paul, an actor and film producer, will soon feature in a documentary titled ‘The Little Things.’ The film delves into the personal stories and relationships of families, staff, and volunteers at the hospice, shedding light on the love and care that permeates its corridors.

May 2019 marked a bittersweet farewell for Kalel, who passed away peacefully at home, surrounded by the love of his family. In the midst of their heartbreak, the Woodward family found solace in the knowledge that he had embraced life’s simplest joys—a rustling wind, the quacking of ducks—eliciting the most infectious giggles.

As Paul pays tribute to his extraordinary son, he wishes to break down the misconceptions surrounding hospice care through the power of film. ‘The Little Things’ aims to showcase the precious memories and love that permeate Derian House, a place that brought immeasurable comfort and warmth to their lives.

To bring this project to fruition, Paul and his film crew have embarked on a crowdfunding journey, seeking support from the community to make the film a reality. Filming commenced earlier this month, and the documentary is set to be completed by early next year, with plans to share it at international film festivals and find a distributor.

Caroline Taylor, head of income, marketing, and communications at Derian House, expressed gratitude for Paul’s endeavor, highlighting the hospice’s commitment to creating moments of joy and love for the families it serves. Derian House, a haven of care and compassion, provides vital support to over 400 babies, children, and young people and their families from across the North West, operating 24/7.

As we embark on this emotional journey with the Woodward family, let us recognize the courage and resilience that can be found in the face of profound loss. May ‘The Little Things’ illuminate the heartwarming love and care at Derian House, inspiring us to cherish life’s simplest joys and embrace the moments that create everlasting memories.

Yael Wolfe

Writer, photographer, artist, and big, bad wolf. I’m a writer, photographer, and artist. I use my work to explore what it means to be a woman in this world.

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