'I tried desperately to save his life': Soham mum pays tribute to ‘special’ son killed in tragic accident
A mother has paid a heartbreaking but uplifting tribute to the three-year-old son she lost in an incident involving her partner’s truck in the week an inquest ruled his death was a tragic accident.
Anthony ‘AJ’ Pritchard-Allen died on April 20 last year after he was struck by a Toyota Hilux truck, used by his father Joe, at Holly Farm, in Soham’s Barcham Road where he worked as a game farmer.
The inquest held in Huntingdon on Tuesday heard that while the truck was being refuelled it had been left in gear. When the ignition was turned on, the vehicle lurched forward and had run over AJ, who had been at the farm with his mum, Tanya, and younger sister Scarlett, to take their dogs for a walk.
Speaking at the family’s home in The Shade, in Soham, days before the hearing, Tanya said: “I tried desperately as a mother to save his life. I was doing CPR before the emergency services arrived but I couldn’t save him. I could see his injuries were just too severe.
“The paramedics did their best too but then those words I was dreading when they said there was nothing more they could do and we needed to come and be with him. Everyone at Addenbrooke’s Hospital was wonderful. Joe and I were able to hold our beautiful boy and say goodbye.”
Those moments will be with the family for ever but so too will be wonderful memories of a very special little boy who brought joy to all who knew him.
“Until he died I didn’t realise just how many people loved him and how his death had affected them,” said Tanya. “It makes me just so happy for the time we had with him. Life can change in a matter of minutes and we are learning not to take anything for granted, to embrace every moment, cry when we need to and make those memories which we can build the rest of our lives on.”
AJ was born in King’s Lynn and moved to Soham with his family in 2015, two weeks before his sister was born.Named after Tanya’s grandfather, he was a pupil at The Shade pre-school just across the road from the family’s home and had been due to go into the reception class in September last year. “He was a real outdoor boy,” said Tanya. “He loved being in the farmyard, no matter what the weather he would have to be outside. The only thing he wanted to do when he was inside was watch his Tractor Ted DVDs.
“He always had his wellies on and they were with him in his funeral casket and at the service we asked everyone to wear their wellies.”
Although he was on the autistic spectrum it never held him back, in fact Tanya believed it helped him develop his own special understanding of the world around him.“He was able to pick up on different emotions both in people and animals which he loved,” she said.
Scarlett, who is now four, is set to start school next month and Tanya and Joe have made every effort to talk to the little girl about the big brother she loved and lost and answer the many questions she has. “We want people not to be afraid to talk about AJ,” said Tanya. “We are trying to live the life our little boy did and still would if he was still here. Everyone at the school has been fantastic. AJ loved bubbles and they have made a water feature to remember him.”
Tanya is a member of the Strong Soham Mums, a group of 12 mothers brought together by the grief of losing a child whose fund-raising calendar has raised over £26,000 for the Road Victims’ Trust and the Addenbrooke’s Charitable Trust for which Tanya and her family have also raised around £1,800 through donations made at AJ’s funeral and through Tanya’s social media posts.
For Tanya and Joe, the tragedy has brought them closer. They plan to marry in 2021 and in January are expecting their third child together. “Whatever life brings you it has to go on,” said Tanya, “and that’s the way it is for us. We cherish every moment we had with AJ and he will always be with us and just because we are smiling or laughing doesn’t mean we are not grieving or hurting. Like AJ that hurt will be with us forever.”
Tanya’s memories of her ‘special’ boy are as indelible as her son’s palm print which she has tattooed on her left forearm. “It was where he always used to grab me,” she said, “and now I have a permanent reminder of him there,” she said.
“He will be forever loved, forever missed, and forever needed, and until we put our arms around him again we are going to live our lives to make him proud and keep his memory alive.”
More by this authorAlison Hayes