A BEREAVED dad is asking people to spare a thought this Father’s Day for the dads whose child has died and support Ty Hafan, Wales’ children’s hospice.

Alun and Vicky Williams’ daughter, Elis Rose, had life-limiting conditions and died aged 16 months.

But Wales’s Sully-based children’s hospice continues to support the St Athan family.

Mr Williams is speaking out about his bereavement as part of Ty Hafan’s summer appeal to help comfort other dads in similar situations by stressing the importance of accepting help, and to not face grief alone.

The funds raised will go towards continuing and improving the 20-year-old charity’s bereavement service for families.

Mr Williams said: “We started to come to Ty Hafan for respite breaks.

“I was so nervous but as soon as we walked in, my fears were lifted.

“The ease that Elis felt in the hospice was plain to see and that automatically made me feel relief.

“You could see that the nurses cared for all the children like their own and we felt at ease letting them look after Elis, giving us the valuable opportunity to spend some time together as a family.”

Mr Williams revealed how he felt when Elis was diagnosed with a combination of life-limiting conditions, and how, as a father, he thought it was his duty to remain strong.

“I was questioning everything and I felt really alone, that I couldn’t or shouldn’t speak to anyone because if I did, then everyone else would crumble,” he said.

“I was trying to be strong for the family and then going away and having a meltdown myself, away from everyone else.

“We were faced with a parent’s worst nightmare: the idea that we were going to outlive our child.

“She was still with us now, but she wasn’t going to be and that thought broke me.”

Ty Hafan helped the family create special memories that would be cherished forever.

Mr Williams said: “Elis absolutely loved the sensory room at the hospice, her eyes just lit up whenever she could use it.

“Seeing her enjoying all the lights and bubbles, it was perfect.

“With the help of the play team, we made even more memories.

“We played with Elis as a family and they took photos of us together.

“Those photos from that day and the artwork that Elis created take pride of place in our house now, reminding us of the happy times.

“Things like that are so important to us because they keep Elis with us, in our family even if she isn’t here physically.”

Ten years since Elis’ death, Ty Hafan continues to support the family with sibling days away, memory events and hospice fun days.

Ty Hafan head of community services and partnerships, Tracy Jones said: “We feel incredibly proud of Alun for speaking out so candidly about his bereavement journey, especially on Father’s Day.

“Dads often feel like they’re the ones who need to stay strong for the family, but they need support just as much as everyone else.

“At the hospice, we’re working hard to develop our memory-making activities by creating tangible symbols like photos, artwork, engraved pebbles and remembering all the deceased children’s names through birdsong — all to help families create a continuing bond.”

She added: “Continuing bond symbols allow families to keep the child as an important part of their family and enable families to talk about their child even when they are no longer physically present.

“For Alun, Father’s Day is a day for memories, and thanks to the precious moments with Elis that were captured at Ty Hafan, he has these forever.”

For information about Ty Hafan’s summer appeal and to watch the video, featuring Alun Williams, visit tyhafan.org/elis