A TEENAGER who was the inspiration behind one of Sheffield’s best-loved charities has died suddenly - in a devastating double tragedy for her family following the death of her big sister 12 years ago.
Molly Hurditch, aged 17, was the motivation for her grandfather Maurice Littlewood to set up Amy’s House in Handsworth for children with special needs, in memory of her older sister Amy who died from meningitis.
Maurice received the MBE in this year’s New Year’s Honours list for his services to the Handsworth community.
Now Molly, whose own special needs meant she lived with a host of health complications and disabilities, has died after suffering a huge epileptic seizure.
Her heartbroken family told The Star they hope she and her sister will be re-united in heaven.
Their devastated mother Jayne, 46, said: “None of this seems quite real. I am still in that stage where I believe Molly has just gone in for some respite care and I will pick her up tomorrow.
“I keep thinking, ‘I must hurry up because I’ve got to pick up Molly’. But now I’ve got no-one left to look after. I feel completely lost.”
Amy’s House, which provides activities for youngsters with special needs, was set up for children like Molly after Maurice and wife Meriel saw Jayne struggling to access support locally for their granddaughter.
Today the charity, based at Ballifield Primary School, is thriving, with 30 registered families who also use its services in school holidays as well as at weekends.
Jayne said she hoped the legacy both Amy and Molly have left behind in Sheffield will help her and the family to get through their latest tragedy.
“When Amy died, as so terribly awful as that was, I had to carry on because I had Molly,” she said.
“She needed me - she was only five at the time, and any five-year-old needs their mum, but especially Molly because of her special needs.
“We were best friends, we did everything together.
“It was the same for my mum and my dad - now that she has gone, they are totally lost too.”
Molly was diagnosed with partial lissencephaly - a condition which means the brain does not develop properly in the womb - when she was 13 months old. The condition left her with epilepsy, autism, and speech and mobility problems, which affected all aspects of her day-to-day life.
As she got older, her epilepsy became more under control and she could sometimes go up to three months without suffering a seizure.
But in February, when she came down with a throat infection and high temperature, she suffered 35 seizures in just one day.
However Jayne said Molly, a pupil at Talbot Special School, had bounced back and had been healthy and happy during the last few weeks.
Her 17th birthday on May 1 was a cause for great celebration - with a Royal Wedding-themed party to which guests arrived wearing red, white and blue, and a residential trip to Whirlow Farm.
Jayne said: “She went into respite the night before as usual and her social worker went to visit her and said she was full of fun - full of smiles and in good humour. It was such a shock to get the call the next morning to say something was wrong.”
Jayne said she had lots of lovely memories of both Molly and Amy to comfort her through the dark days ahead - happy thoughts which she hopes will replace those centred around the many worrying nights Molly spent in hospital battling complications.
“Molly was a wonderful person,” she said. “She loved to make you laugh and always put a smile on your face. She was sweet and loving.
“Now all we can hope is that, if there is somewhere after this place, Amy and Molly are together again.
“I just hope Molly does not have to suffer all the things she had to deal with on earth. I hope she is happy and healthy with Amy.”
The funeral takes place tomorrow at Handsworth Methodist Church, Handsworth Road, at 11.15am. Family flowers only but donations can be made to Amy’s House. Visit www.amyshouse.org.uk for more information.