Children at a Spalding special school helped open a new play area in memory of a former schoolmate on what would have been his 15th birthday.
A new sensory room has been unveiled at The Garth School thanks to money that was raised by the family of Joseph Bradshaw, who died in April.
When he was born, Joseph, of Moulton Seas End, was just one of six people in the world to have a rare chromosome abnormality.
The condition was so rare the family were told by experts they had to ‘wait and see’ as to how he’d develop.
A cleft lip complicated his development but a tube inserted into his stomach allowed him to be fed and led to him learning to crawl by the age of two.
The family credit The Garth School and various health workers for improving Joseph’s quality of life.
“We’ve had a lovely nearly 15 years with him,” said mum Sandra. “Our life with him has enriched us all and made us who we are as a family.
“It’s made us open our eyes to what’s important.
“For saying he was such a little guy he taught us an awful lot.
“Since he’s been at The Garth the school have done the most amazing job with him.
“The school itself is like a big family and they’ve been there for us even after he died.
“You can see that every member of staff is there for every child.”
Instead of flowers at Joseph’s funeral, the family asked for donations.
It led to £1,000 being donated for The Garth which decided a new sensory room would be perfect to remember Joseph for years to come.
It was officially opened by Joseph’s parents Sandra and Michael, his sister Alexis, uncle Gareth Owen and grandad John Owen who turned 70, having shared a birthday with his grandson.
Joseph’s friends from Mangoes class were the first to use the new facilities.
“The room is amazing,” Sandra said. “It’s everything I wanted it to be when I came up with the idea.
“It’s something that you wouldn’t have been able to get Joseph out of because he’d have loved it so much.
“They’ve done a wonderful job and a lot of hard work has gone into it.
“The children all seemed to love it.”
The Garth’s headteacher Claire Moore said: “Joseph was a very fun loving and cheeky young man and despite his profound learning difficulties and complex health care needs, there is no doubt he learned how to react quickly to cause as much mischievousness as was practically possible.
“Joseph’s ability to ensure he thoroughly explored the messiest and dirtiest of learning resources certainly springs to mind.
“Friends and family of The Garth School have been fundraising for many years to provide pupils here with the very best sensory based equipment and learning space.
“As a direct result of the most fantastic fundraising efforts, we have been in the fortunate position to be able to re-configure an existing classroom into the most wonderful multi-sensory room.
“Joseph would have loved this space and it is only fitting that this room is dedicated to Joseph.”
Joseph’s dad Michael said: “Joseph’s special educational needs meant that he never showed any abilities over the age of a one-year-old, but this didn’t stop him having a fun and mischievous life.
“We thank all those who looked after him in hospital and those in the community services who went above and beyond to keep him out of hospital.
“We can’t put into words how much we value the care and dedication shown by the carers and nursing teams throughout Joseph’s short life.
“A big thank you goes to everyone in social services, Haven Cottage respite care centre and the NHS who looked after Joseph. Without their help we would not have had nearly 15 years of happy memories with Joseph.
“The staff at the Garth school are truly amazing and seem to regularly work 12 hour days, putting on discos to entertain the children and bingo nights to raise funds for the school.
“We thank them so much for never giving up and trying hard with Joseph, because slowly but surely he explored the world around him, he learnt new things and enjoyed every moment at The Garth.”