We set up a Breath of Life Fund to honour our grandad

Neeshma and her family set up a Breath of Life fund in memory of her grandad. And for her wedding day, Neeshma knew she wanted to do something special to honour him.

Neeshma and her husband on their wedding day - British Lung Foundation
Neeshma and her husband on their wedding day

The word dada means grandad in Gujarati, our mother tongue. I wanted you to read this through my eyes, so I've used this throughout our story.

Dada was an active man. He worked on the sugarcane farms in Miwani, Kenya before following his family to Watford in 1975 where he started working at an insulation panels manufacturer. It was there that he was exposed to asbestos.

I was lucky enough to live with my grandparents from birth and he was a second dad to me. He would know when we were happy, sad or up to no good. He was the well-respected head of the family and everyone turned to him when they had a problem. He wouldn't hesitate to help anyone in need. 

I’ve never known heartbreak like that

During the summer heatwave in 2018, my grandad struggled with his breathing more than usual. We contacted emergency services and a doctor came out to assess him. He was taken to hospital. We were told he wouldn't make it through the night.

We lost him in the early hours of the morning to end-stage chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and respiratory failure. 

Until that day I had never lost anyone before. To lose the man who wasn’t just my grandad, but someone I believe was the glue to my family, is a feeling I’ll never be able to describe.

I wanted to do something big to honour his memory

Neeshma's balloon themed cake - British Lung Foundation

One year on it feels like only yesterday he was still here, winding up my gran, making up private jokes and telling his stories. I can still hear his voice guiding and encouraging me through life.

My fiancé and I decided we wouldn’t have flowers at our wedding and instead have balloons to celebrate the day. This was to support the British Lung Foundation with their research and help others with COPD. We bought BLF balloon pin badges for our guests, my sister made me a bauble bouquet (to symbolise the BLF balloon) and even our cake was balloon themed.

As I took this massive step in my life where I would have done anything to have my dada present, I wanted to do something big to honour his memory. 

We as a family are passionate about the BLF and the Breath of Life Fund we started for our grandad. It still receives donations on birthdays or special occasions and is a way for us to remember our dada.

Neeshma and her husband on their wedding day - British Lung Foundation
Neeshma and her husband, wearing a BLF pin badge, on their wedding day

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13 February 2020