A DAD has shared the sometimes ‘heart breaking’ experience of caring for his terminally ill son to encourage support for the Oxford hospice that lets him ‘just be a parent’.

With Father’s Day this weekend, Jason Smith, from Bampton, said while the day would be special, looking after his son Jack, who has cerebral palsy and epilepsy, was a full-time responsibility.

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He explained: “We still have nursing and caring responsibilities and medicines to give Jack.

“But it is also special day to spend with Jack and his brothers Noah and Leon who will visit.

“I am made to feel very special by my lovely family. There will be treats, cards and a trip to Silverstone race track.”

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The father-of-three added: “Being a dad is a privilege to see my children happy, smiling and laughing.

“I am proud to see them grow up and achieve things. Being a dad to Jack is all of these things, however it can be heart breaking too.

“It is difficult to see him struggle with seizures and the many other medical needs he has.

“It can also be exhausting from many sleepless nights and the endless caring role.”

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Mr Smith said Helen & Douglas House, which has been providing respite care for Jack for 13 years, helped give the family ‘much needed’ respite from being the teenager’s full time carers and he and his wife Jane to ‘just be parents’.

He added: “It also allows us to have some much needed time with Noah, Jack’s younger brother who is seven and has become very good at occupying himself while we are caring for Jack.”

The father-of-three said the hospice was also a positive experience for Jack, saying: “He gets a lot from coming to Helen & Douglas House.

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"Jack really enjoys the therapy pool because he loves being in the water which he cannot do at home.

“He loves socialising, not just with his family. He also enjoys the amazing hospice garden in the summer. He has built some very special friendships with other families and staff at Helen & Douglas House.

The father added: “Being a dad to Jack, is a privilege and so rewarding. He is a very special boy, a daddy’s boy. It’s the smiles and the special little looks that are just for me which are so special.”

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Hazel Bedford from the hospice said: “Jason is one of many dads who come to Helen & Douglas House for support on their difficult and exhausting journey physically and mentally to help them care for their terminally ill child.”

Each year the hospice needs to raise £3m to fund the service.

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