Bereaved families create keepsake songs in memory of their child

GRIEVING parents are being helped to process their loss through music with the help of an internationally-acclaimed songstress at Derian House Children’s Hospice.

Kiki Deville, best known for her appearance on reality TV’s The Voice – has led the “Keepsake Circle” project at the Chorley-based hospice.

A total of 10 families took part, with an album of the songs being released for sale to raise money for the charity.

An official launch evening with performances of the songs was held at The Dunkenhalgh Hotel in Clayton-le-Moors this weekend (Sunday 27 November) for families who took part.

Mum Deborah Chapman, and her son Archie, 19, of Rossendale, took part in the songwriting sessions in memory of son and brother, Saul, who passed away aged nine – 11 months after being diagnosed with a rare form of childhood cancer.

Archie’s poems about his brother were included in the poignant song called “I’ve Got You”.

Deborah said: “We were so happy when we found out we were going to be involved in the Keepsake Circle. Archie and I did it together, a mum and son thing. Saul loved music so it seemed a perfect way to celebrate everything about him.

“Saul was advanced in his years when it came to music – he always had a varied taste. His favourites were Macklemore, Tinie Tempah, Olly Murs, and Skrillex to name but a few.

“Saul’s school got him an iPad and some Dr Dre Beats headphones during his illness and in his most difficult times you could always find him listening to something. We found that iPad recently and turned it on to discover the last song he had been listening to. It made me feel closer to him.

“He was such a positive, happy person. When you lose someone you lock things away. It was lovely to be able to go through that process of creating a song. You just want to keep the memory of your child alive. I didn’t know what to expect but it was such a positive experience. It feels like it has all come around full circle.

“Archie was 11 when he lost his brother and has done a lot of growing up in the last few years. Archie has a way with words, and a lot of his writing was used into the song, celebrating his memories of Saul in an upbeat ballad.

“Archie and I were both blown away by the song, it’s really hard to explain. It was everything Saul was and will be. It is the essence of him. We are so glad we have had the opportunity to take part.”

The songwriting sessions were particularly poignant for songwriter Kiki, Patron of Derian House, whose baby son Dexter was cared for at the hospice during his short life. Dexter, who was born with Zellweger Syndrome, died aged just one month and three days in 2007.

Kiki said: “Like any project fuelled with emotion, it has been an immense pleasure laced with some sadness. Getting the songs right for the families is a lot of pressure – but pressure I wouldn’t change for the world. It will always be a tough project, but the rewards far outweigh the tough bits.”

Now in its second year, the project has helped a total of 20 families and sees them sharing favourite memories of their child, which are then turned into songs by Kiki and her songwriting partner Guss.

Kiki, of Earby, Lancashire, describes it as “Dexter’s legacy”.

She said: “This project is my chance to remember my own child Dexter, whilst filling my heart with the memories of more beautiful children that sadly, the world can never meet now.

“But they can get to know them, and their family and friends can remember them, through their unique songs. Being able to continue this relationship with Derian House and Derian House families is such a huge source of joy for me. It is such a special place for so many people, my family included, so working so closely to get to know more Derian families is such a privilege.”

Kiki presented with the project at the annual conference of Together for Short Lives – a charity that represents all children’s hospices across the UK – in September, and is currently in talks with other hospices with hopes to extend the project to their families.

Buy The Keepsake Circle – Chapter Two CD at any Derian House charity shop or online www.derianhouse.co.uk/shop

Or you can stream from Spotify: https://tinyurl.com/4fy6apdd or Apple Music: https://tinyurl.com/3mdj42n7

For more information and news about the project see @thekeepsakecircle on Instagram and www.thekeepsakecircle.co.uk

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