Mum of suicide victim to help homeless this Christmas in his memory
A mother who lost her son to suicide earlier this year has launched an appeal to help homeless people in the run-up to Christmas.
Hester Glenn is dreading her first Christmas without her beloved son Jack (23) whose body was recovered from the River Foyle last March, so she, her daughter Katie and a few friends have decided to channel her feelings towards positive action.
In the months since March, when the family were able to lay Jack to rest, the family have raised hundreds of pounds for organisations that helped them during their weeks of distress.
Katie - Jack's sister - also joined the Mourne River Rescue.
Now Hester and Katie hope to collect and later deliver clothing in good condition, sleeping bags and toiletries to homeless people in Londonderry, Belfast and Dublin.
Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, Hester said: "Last Christmas was, without a doubt, the best I had with Jack in years. He didn't have a job but he had a plan of what he was going to do with his life. He was so positive, he was going to go to university, get a job and talked so positively about the future.
"He was in great form - he made a point of getting to see his granny and his aunts who were telling me about how great he was looking and he was just so happy - it really was the best Christmas I had with him, but I am dreading this year so much.
"I can't get it out of my head, the thought of waking up on Christmas morning and not having Jack with us.
"I don't know how I am going to get through it and I have told Katie I might just go to his grave and them come home and spend the day in bed.
"This is the first Christmas without him and we have had so many 'firsts' when he hasn't been here that there are times I am so overwhelmed with missing him."
Hester said that her life had changed forever, but that when Katie revealed that she and some of her friends were thinking about collecting for the homeless she quickly agreed to help.
She said: "She is such a caring girl who would go out of her way to help anyone, but after she suggested it I knew it was something I would like to be involved in and it would be a good way for me to distract myself in a positive way.
"The whole experience with Jack has made me realise none of us knows what the futures holds and we don't know when maybe someone's circumstances might change suddenly and leave them without a home or any hope.
"The whole time we were searching for Jack and set up the camp we made a total of 52 phone calls because we saw distressed people on the bridge.
"I remember one woman we spoke to said she had lost her job the week before and didn't know how she was going to pay her bills and buy the things like food."
Hester, Katie and five of their friends came up with the idea of helping homeless people by supplying good quality warm clothing, particularly waterproof jackets and trousers, hats, gloves, scarves, thermals, blankets, sleeping bags and toiletries, among others.
She said: "We live in the Strabane area and are asking local people to donate these items or, if people prefer, they can donate money which we will use to buy these items, so as many people as possible will get a box that will hopefully help lift their spirits and make this winter a little less harsh on them.
"We have been given the use of Lisnafin Community Hall in Strabane for the weekend of November 25 and 26, from 12 noon to 4pm on the Saturday, and from 11am to 4pm on the Sunday, for people to bring along their donations.
"On December 17, the seven of us plan to travel to Belfast and begin distributing to the homeless."
Hester hopes getting involved in the charity mission will help her face a difficult Christmas: "Jack was so loved by so many and I know it will be incredibly painful, but at least by helping homeless people who have no one in their lives to show them a bit of love we are doing something positive."