A FATHER whose son died aged five after suffering brain damage at birth now wants to help families facing similar heartache.

Businessman Richard Crunden, 36, from Newick, wants to create a lasting legacy for young Theo, who died in 2017.

Richard has also thanked staff at Chailey Heritage Foundation near Lewes for transforming his son’s life – he ran last month’s Brighton Half Marathon in his memory.

Richard completed the race with sister Debby Scull, 38.

He has so far raised £680 for Chailey Heritage Foundation where Theo spent three years as a pupil from 2014 to 2017.

Theo was only five when he died but Richard said his family has many positive memories of his short life.

Richard said: “Chailey Heritage has a special place in the heart of our family.

“My son Theo benefited so much from being there and it was a place where he had some of his happiest times, with a team of exceptional people who knew him and truly brought out the best in him.

“I can’t speak highly enough of the staff at Chailey Heritage who supported Theo while he was there.

“We often look back at pictures and videos of his time at Chailey Heritage and if we can help in any small way to make sure other kids have just as much fun and develop as much as Theo did, then this will go some way towards leaving a lasting legacy for Theo.”

Theo suffered catastrophic brain damage at birth after a complicated caesarean section.

He was starved of oxygen for a long period and resuscitated twice. He then had pneumonia but survived.

His death in October 2017 was unexpected.

His mother Lucy, 35, said: “He really was the bravest soul I have ever met. He had quadriplegic cerebral palsy, was registered severely visually impaired and could not eat orally; his swallow was too unsafe.

“He suffered daily. Even with more than ten medications, his seizures, spasms and dystonia plagued his every move yet he still smiled. He tried so hard to lift his arm or extend a finger but this always resulted in an incredibly painful spasm and seizure.

“When he cried out in pain, I was taken back to his birth and the horror we went through. This happened to Theo hundreds of times a day yet still he smiled.”

The family, who run a cooling systems company in Horsham, have been fundraising for charities which support disabled young people.

Richard said: “It is great to help other children in Theo’s memory. He really did have a great time at Chailey Heritage.

“The Brighton Half Marathon gave me a lot of time to think about him and we have some lovely memories of him in Brighton too.

“His communication skills really came on when he was at Chailey Heritage. There were some terrific staff who were able to give him some superb one to one support, and there’s no doubt that it helped him massively.

“I would describe it as full rounded support for Theo provided by Chailey Heritage Foundation.

“We had no expectation he would die when he did, and it was such a shock.

“Now I am determined to help other families in similar positions.”

The couple have two other children, Mabel aged five and Flora, two.

Every penny raised will support the children and young people at Chailey Heritage Foundation to fulfil their potential. There’s still time to donate to Richard’s fundraising.

Go to: https://www.justgiving.com/Richard-Crunden2