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Helena Bonham Carter to narrate special film ‘Saying Goodbye’ for Children in Need

Daughter holding a photo of her father

Every day in the UK, more than 100 children experience the death of their mother or father.

A new film from True Vision Productions narrated by Helena Bonham Carter for BBC Children in Need gives a voice to children and young people experiencing or preparing for bereavement.

A special film for BBC Children in Need, Saying Goodbye, shares the stories of a group of children and young people from across the UK who are dealing with the terminal illness or death of a parent, many of whom have been supported by projects funded by BBC Children in Need. The programme, narrated by Actor Helena Bonham Carter, will air at 10.45pm on Tuesday 14 November on BBC One.

The film, from BAFTA award winning True Vision Productions, allows children and young people to share their experiences coping with or preparing for the possible death of a parent, in their own words, with the aim of helping other children and young people who are facing a similar circumstance.

Two of the young people who feature in the film include sisters Imogen, aged 12, and Madeleine, aged nine, from Hengoed South Wales, who bravely share their experiences in preparing for the loss of their mother, who has an incurable form of breast cancer, which can be inherited.

Speaking of her mother’s prognosis, Madeleine commented: “It feels a bit scary because I never know when it’s [her death] going to happen or why it [terminal cancer] has happened to my mum…she might have two months to live, or a year to live. You never know.”

The pair’s father also has a life-limiting illness, Huntington’s Disease, a genetic condition that damages nerve cells in the brain. Speaking of her father Imogen said: “He has Huntington’s so he struggles to talk and just gets ill’er and ill’er and ill’er [sic].”

Whilst discussing her mother’s attempts to prepare Imogen for life without her, she commented:If she’s not there I call her every night. And she says, ‘You need to stop doing that so that you’re ready for the future – because you can’t just call me up once I’ve passed’.”

Viewers will also meet Shayna, aged 17, from South East London who also shares her experience of bereavement in the film. Whilst discussing the death of her father Shayna says: “When someone dies, one of the most truthful things I could say is nothing will ever, ever, ever be the same.”

“The hardest bit was the hospital visits and finally coming to terms with, OK then, Dad’s really not well.”

The film also gives viewers a glimpse into the support available to young people like Imogen, Madeleine and Shayna as it features a child bereavement session running at The Princess Alice Hospice in Surrey. The Hospice receives BBC Children in Need funding to provide support including therapeutic sessions and crisis response sessions to children and young people who are experiencing bereavement. These sessions provide emotional support and equip children and young people with ideas and materials to use at times of stress.

I am delighted to be on board with this year’s BBC Children in Need Appeal and to narrate Saying Goodbye. It’s a privilege to be able to be involved with such a heart-rending film which shares such honest and important stories from children and young people as they cope with death of a parent or are facing this possibility

Actress Helena Bonham Carter, Narrator of Saying Goodbye

“I hope this film strikes a chord with people across the UK and encourages them to donate to BBC Children in Need to enable the charity to continue to support children and young people who need it most.”

Nick Read, BAFTA-nominated Director from True Vision Productions Commented; “Coping with the bereavement of a loved one at any age is difficult but the loss of a loved one at a young age can be particularly hard. In the UK, a young person under the age of 18 will have to deal with a death in the family every 22 minutes.”

“With so many children and young people experiencing or preparing for bereavement we feel this film importantly sheds a light on their challenges. It also highlights the need for projects such as those funded by BBC Children in Need which offers bereaved children and young people support through these difficult times.”

“We were privileged to be able to work with some incredible children who are coping with bereavement and who were brave and generous enough to share their experiences with the aim of benefiting others going through similar struggles. We hope people across the UK are encouraged to tune in and help support BBC Children in Need.”

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