People

Published: July 17, 2020 | Updated: July 17, 2020

The grief of a mother – and how she will be able to hold the hands of her son, 14, forever

The bronze cast with the hands of Lesley and her son, Will. Picture: Elliot Coulter.
By Andrew Diprose, editor

The pain, the grief and the sadness will never go.

How can it for a mum who lost her only child, Will, aged just 14.

A son who was her world.

Fearless, brave, empathetic and sensitive.

But the memory of Lesley Paddy’s boy, who she loved to call ‘Bubba’ and her ‘munchkin’, will live on forever.

The 53-year-old has founded a charity – #Willdoes – in memory of Will.

It’s already raised £65,000 in the space of just six months.

The money will go towards the benefit of young people.

And a friend, Glenda Hickmott, has created two bronze casts of Lesley holding Will’s hand.

The casts turn warm in the sunlight.

Lesley said: “It feels so comforting to touch them. As though Will is still with me.

“I burst into tears when Glenda presented them to me.”

It was May 29 last year that Lesley’s life fell apart.

She discovered her son’s unresponsive body in the bathroom of the family home at Harman’s Cross near Swanage.

Despite Lesley performing CPR, Will was declared dead at the scene.

An inquest in March recorded a verdict of misadventure.

Brendan Allen, Assistant Dorset Coroner, described Will’s death as “an unimaginable tragedy.”

He added: “”I am satisfied on the balance of probabilities that William did not intend to take his own life.”

Lesley said: “From the day he was born, Will had been strong-minded and fearless.

“He was the most kind and empathetic son you can imagine.

“Will was my world. Everything I did was for him and we were so close.

“Now I just have a constant pain in the pit of my stomach which never goes away.”

Will, who attended Milton Abbey School, loved animals and was a keen rugby player and talented horse rider and snowboarder.

Highly popular and charismatic, more than 500 people attended his funeral. Wearing black was discouraged.

Within days Lesley, who owns Marine Options (Poole) Ltd, had decided to found a charity dedicated to Will’s memory.

As Lesley had the heart-breaking task of going through Will’s possessions, she kept finding references to ‘Will does’.

“It could be ‘Will does horse riding’ or ‘Will does snow boarding.’ It seemed a very good name for the charity,” said Lesley.

“We received charitable status in December and have held several events ranging from a scooter jam competition to a 10k run where 5,000 people ran, walked and crawled along Knoll Beach.”

#Willdoes is dedicated to helping young people who may be finding life tough and are struggling to cope with daily life.

The long-term aim is to establish a Willdoes hub in Swanage.

Lesley said: “There’s really nowhere for young people to hang out.

“The hub would have a TV room and facilities for things like boxing.

“It’s very early days but there’s a group of developers in the Bournemouth area who are keen to help.

“One day, I’d like to see it become reality.”

The hand cast came after Lesley was approached by Glenda of Precious Memories.

They had become friends when Will, and Glenda’s elder daughter, attended Yarrells Preparatory School at Upton.

The casts were taken as Will lay at rest at Douch Family Funeral Directors (James Smith) in Swanage.

Lesley said: “I visited him every day but it was horrendous holding Will’s hand.

“You’re in so much shock, though, that you don’t have time to think.”

Glenda said: “Having done this for 16 years now, this type of casting is never easy.

“The pressure is phenomenal.

“I had to use all my strength to remain focussed when I met with Lesley and it is a time I will never forget.

“A mum, broken, thanking me for doing this for her.

“The outcome is something she can hold on to over the years to come.

“What I have created will never replace her son, but if it offers one per cent of comfort it was worth it for me.”

Lesley said: “They are so beautiful and more than I ever expected them to be.

“I am now able to hold Will’s hand forever.