‘I lost my dad aged 9 – I dream of just one more Christmas with him’

A Grimsby man who lost his dad when he was nine years old has shared an important message as families come together to celebrate Christmas.

Terry Birkett, 33, spends a lot of his time raising awareness of mental health. and has had backing from famous faces like Tom Grennan and Nick Knowles along the way.

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The Grimsby man has suffered his own demons from mental health when he lost his dad, also called Terry, to cancer and he was placed into care.

He said: “Losing my dad and not being able to see my mum was devastating for me.

Terry lost his dad at the age of nine years old which had a profound impact on his mental health

“Everything seemed to all boil up at once and I couldn’t control the way I felt.

“I didn’t have any counselling at the time and I didn’t understand what I was feeling, but if I’d had the help it may have been a different story.

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“I suffer from depression and anxiety now which is especially hard to control over Christmas.”

He was often bullied at school and he didn’t know how to control his emotions after losing a beloved father.

But thankfully, Terry has learned to conquer and control his emotions in a more controlled way as he speaks about the importance of mental health at Christmas.

He told Grimsby Live: “I know so many people will be thinking a lot by these times when they’ve lost a loved one.

“I know myself I think a lot about my dad who I lost when I was nine years-old. It never gets easier.

“Every year I’ve always said the perfect gift for me would to use just one more Christmas with him but I know he will be with us all in spirit as always.

Terry with his mum Christine. He lost his father over 24 years ago and not a day goes by when he doesn’t miss him

“I guess we just have to make the most of these situations and be greatly appreciated of who we use times like these with.

“And it will be nice to use it with my mum but the gift you can give anyone this year is a simple one – a check in or simple message.

“You can’t believe how much that can really help someone as it did for me and others that I know who are experiencing with mental health.

“I know at times that’s all we need from our loved ones and friends.”

Terry also wants people to understand the importance of how people may feel this Christmas.

He said: “Christmas is now upon us and many people will be celebrating with their family at this joyful time.

“But for others, it is a hard time and some people struggle by this period a lot. The only present I want for Christmas is for others to do good this year.

“I want people to look out for their friends, family and anyone who we know who could be struggling and spending Christmas alone.

“Something as small as picking up the phone to message or call someone can be the perfect gift.

“Just a check up and a Christmas wish is so important. To reach out to someone in need can make a huge contribution to their lives.

“I think it’s fantastic to read so many people contributed towards gifts and just putting smiles on people’s faces.

“Small things show so much and I’ve seen so many nice gestures around social media and it really shows how much the community cares about others.”

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