The CooperBurnett Charity of Choice currently is Taylor-Made Dreams and here we find out more about the inspiration and name behind the charity – which focuses on granting wishes for terminally-ill children.
In 2008 Taylor Mitchell aged 11 was diagnosed with a condition which changed his, and his family’s life, forever. After courageously fighting against the incurable illness for four years, attending hundreds of medical appointments, undergoing many operations and three months of painful treatment in the USA, Taylor’s family were given the devastating news that his prognosis was terminal. It was estimated that Taylor had just two years left to live, a life shattering blow for the whole family on an unimaginable scale.
When Taylor first became ill he told his Mum Suzi “If they ever tell you I’m going to die, don’t tell me because I don’t want to give up.” Taylor’s Mum kept this promise. However, it was clear that Taylor was acutely aware of his position, he was a wise young man, far beyond his years and his spirit for life was one of passion, courage and humour in the face of adversity. In fact his favourite Nike T’shirt was "Never, ever, ever, ever, ever give up”; he never did give up, and even at the end of his life, he used humour to lighten the burden of the ones he loved around him.
In 2009 Taylor and his mother watched the film Bucket List, about two cancer patients who write a bucket list of things they want to do before they die. Both Taylor and his Mum were tearful by the end of the movie and Suzi asked her son if he would like to write his own bucket list. The answer was ‘yes’ and they began to compile a list of things Taylor wanted to do, people he wanted to meet and places he wanted to go.
When two friends of the family, Julie Little and Trudy Yardley, heard about Taylor’s list, they began a fundraising campaign which was named ‘Taylor’s Bucket of Wishes’ to enable Taylor to achieve his dreams. Over the next two years, valuable funds were raised to enable Taylor to tick off his list and enjoy the time he had left with his family and friends.
Many exciting adventures were had in the last two years of Taylor’s life, including a dream holiday in the wonderful tree house at Centre Parks, swimming with dolphins, meeting the crew of the Red Arrows, seeing the stage show Lion King, meeting his favourite team Tottenham Hotspur and his top player Gareth Bale, not to mention the wonderful international ‘A’ list national treasure Mr David Beckham himself.
Other things on his list included an iPad, iPhone, Fred Perry sunglasses, mini fridge for his room and a coffee machine. These objects didn’t take away the reality and gravity of the situation but they did add a little happiness, provide events to look forward to, and more importantly, create space to share special quality times with his loved ones.
Laughter played a large part in Taylor’s life, often joking around with his family with his dry, comical sense of humour. His comic hero was the wonderful comedian John Bishop and when he was very ill and bedridden, he often watched John’s comedy DVDs with his Mum and brothers; his laughter filled the air and John created some memorable cherished chuckles and smiles!
John was one of the few people Taylor wanted to meet and he was lucky enough to meet him in Nottingham in 2011 after John kindly invited him and his family to his Sunshine show. Subsequently John has agreed to be the official patron of Taylor-Made Dreams.
Taylor sadly passed away on 2 September 2011 and it was whilst fulfilling his list that Suzi decided she would one day set up a charity to do the same for other children with life-limiting illnesses. In 2012 Suzi put her plan into action and worked towards making her vision a reality, she approached her friend Amanda who worked in the charity sector, and together they got charitable registration status for Taylor-Made Dreams.