Newport teenager who lost mother to cancer becomes volunteer for St David’s Hospice service

A NEWPORT teenager who received support from a charity service to come to terms with the death of his mother has now become part of the support network, and is helping the service to celebrate its 10th anniversary.

James Wallace, now 17, lost his mother Paula in 2016.

Mrs Wallace died on December 6, 2016, following a battle with leukaemia.

Following her terminal diagnosis, and having received care at St David’s Hospice in Newport, Mrs Wallace suggested to her son that he should look into the Unicorn Service, the arm of the charity which supports children who are recently bereaved or whose parents are seriously ill.

More than two years on, James has spoken of how the service has helped him realise that talking about his experience with loss and grief is the first step towards living with it.

“It’s helped me realise that I’m not alone and that there are other people going through the same things,” he said.

“I’ve found the group sessions incredibly helpful too, there’s nothing worse than being on your own at times like this.”

More recently, Mr Wallace decided that he could take his involvement in the service to the next level and begin to help those young people in the position that he once found himself in.

“There was one time where everyone was sat there in a group session, but no-one wanted to go first,” he explained.

“So, I said: ‘I’ll go first’ and everyone seemed a lot more relaxed after that.”

The Unicorn service was started 10 years ago with funding from Children in Need.

Elaine Robinson, who has worked with the service since its inception, said usually it was quite unusual where someone who used the service is happy to come back into to support others.

“Some people can get a lot from that though. It can be quite empowering,” she said.

“Having someone like James becoming involved in the service can let the younger children we support see that there is a way through this.”

James said he had got to know Mrs Robinson through her work with his mother.

“Elaine had contact with my mum before she died,” he said.

“Mum said to me that I should try out these one-to-one sessions. It was at our house to begin with, just sat on the settee.

“I found it quite difficult at first but as the sessions went on, I got better and better.

“I began the sessions after my mum was diagnosed as terminally ill and continued to attend after she passed away.”

He added: “It shows that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.”

The Unicorn Service has helped roughly 1,500 young people through bereavement to date and is showing no signs of stopping.

“I feel really privileged and really proud to have seen the service reach ten years,” said Mrs Robinson.

Friday, July 12, was their ten-year anniversary and St David’s Hospice Care are encouraging people to help them raise money for the vital service.

Visit to get your free fundraising pack.