A FOREST of Dean mother has set up a charity to provide a centre offering facilities to other disabled children that her son was unable to access. 

“Having additional needs does not make a life any less meaningful,” said Brody’s mother Nikki Baggott.  

“In fact, I believe that these special people can bring so much more to the lives of all that they touch, they become our shining stars.” 

Nikki from Mitcheldean explained that when her son Brody was born in 2009, he was diagnosed with complex needs and given little chance of surviving for very long.  

But despite the poor prognosis he was given, his family had ten beautiful, glorious, tearful, heart wrenching, joyful, stressful and the most fulfilling years with him. 

“Through hospital stays, sleepless nights and alarming machines I learnt to care for my happy, smiley, cheeky little monkey,” said Nikki. 

“I began to believe that those with complex care needs are more than capable of living a life filled with magic and joy, but the lack of any local resources meant that we were limited on what we could do as a family.  

“When Brody was young, we had nowhere to go that could accommodate us as a family, that could facilitate Brody’s needs. 

“He massively benefited from a range of light and relaxation therapies, but to find a sensory room with a wide range to satisfy him was exhausting and meant we went without.” 

Nikki said that after she reached out, she found other parents struggling with the same isolation issues but realised that there was nowhere to meet up with them, only in hospitals where their children were being treated. 

Nikki recalls Brody loving having his sensory toys around him. After battling a hard day, Brody would just love to chill on this music sensory mat, where the music would vibrate up through.  

Nikki added: “That was just magic for Brody. This would help settle his tired little body and relax. He used to love listening to the bubble tubes, after a night with no sleep, this would also help him relax enough to settle. It's not easy trying to juggle a life with a family.  

mother and son
BIRTHDAY CELEBRATIONS: Nikki helps Brody enjoy his birthday.  (submitted)

“It is precisely these reasons, along with my values and beliefs, that inspired me to set up Brody’s Trust after my little boy decided to spread his wings and fly. 

“Brody had an infectious smile and we thought it right that Brody’s Trust was based around him and his personality. We as a family just wished that there had been more resources locally that Brody could have enjoyed. 

“I want to help others and inspire and encourage those with additional needs to live fulfilled lives, focussing on the quality of life, regardless of how long this may be.” 

Nikki explained that the trust’s ambition is to enable others to create the memories that they will hold forever, “Just like I did with my cheeky little monkey,” she adds. 

“Being able to support families is really important to us. We know first-hand just how rewarding and full of joy it can be, but on the flip side, how stressful, tiring and isolating it is. Sometimes, all you need is a helping hand, a smiling face, and a listening ear. 

Since Brody fled his wings, Nikki reflected on the situation and decided to honour his memory by providing this much needed facility in the Forest of Dean for other families with special educational needs and complex needs children.  

“We are in the final stages of securing a unit at the Vantage Point Business Village in Mitcheldean,” Nikki said. “A suitable unit has been identified, but we are still waiting for the go-head from relevant bodies.  

“We have recruited Lynn Teague, the former chief executive of the Forest of Dean Citizens Advice Bureau as our fundraiser. 

“Having this unit up and running would provide the opportunity to others to take advantage of a local multi-sensory facility, that we so desperately wished we had. This would have made some of our hardest days that little bit better.  

“During our time with Brody, we found that some of the sensory rooms could be very expensive, and this was on top of having a child with needs that was already financially draining.” 

Nikki outlined that Brody’s Trust will benefit the community by having multiple therapies designed to aid mental wellbeing and bring joy and laughter to other children in the area. 

However, she emphasised that it should be a free experience.  

Nikki said: “During our search with Brody we found that some of these sensory rooms could be very expensive and having a child with a disability or complex need can be very financially draining.  

“There will be an opportunity to donate to aid the facility to keep it running, but there will be no obligation. All children deserve fun and laughter regardless of their situation. 

The trust, which is looking for trustees and volunteers, hopes to create a team of specially trained support workers in the facility who can ensure a safe and fun environment for all children, providing families with experiences they will most certainly cherish.  

“We want Brody's Trust to become a magical addition to your family and for your family to become a part of Brody's memory,” Nikki concluded. 

Lexi, Brody's little sister said: “Growing up with Brody was one of the best things I could ask for. It wasn’t like growing up with a normal sibling, it was like growing up with a forever best friend, going places together and spending quality time together.  

“Brody made me realise the meaning to life and he made my life the best life. One of our favourite things together was spending time on his sensory bed with lights and his favourite music playing.  

“Knowing that children like Brody can experience these things puts a smile on my face, because it truly is a beautiful thing to see your brother smile so big and have such a contagious laugh to brighten up any room." 

If you are interested in becoming a trustee, or a volunteer at Brody’s Trust, contact the team at [email protected]