HIS loss is something they will never get over.
But for the devastated family of murdered Ryan Hawkins, the huge support shown by the people of Slaithwaite and Huddersfield has been invaluable as they start to rebuild their lives.
Soon after the four-year-old was stabbed to death last year, a community campaign was launched to raise £5,000 to send them on an all-expenses-paid holiday to Disneyland, Florida, in June.
This week, his mum, Valerie Gee, and sisters, Donna and Natalie Hawkins, were presented with their tickets at the Swan pub in Slaithwaite.
Valerie, 40, said: “Everyone has pulled together. They have been amazing. We want to say thank you.
“When I first heard that people were wanting to do something, I just wanted them to get on with it because we were having to deal with everything else.
“People were saying it would be good to have some time away as a family, for some bonding.
“At the time, we were just trying to deal with what happened, then there was the trial, and I still don’t think it’s hit me.
“But now that everything has quietened down it’s starting to sink in. We’re looking forward to getting away.”
Ryan died after he was repeatedly stabbed by his father Christopher Hawkins, 47, at Hawkins’s Royd Street home on September 23.
Donna, 14, who had gone to pick Ryan up, was also attacked, but escaped and survived.
Valerie revealed that when she was called to Huddersfield Royal Infirmary that afternoon, she did not know Ryan had been hurt.
She said: “I thought it was just Donna, and then the ambulance arrived with Ryan.
“They took him into surgery and asked us to let them do their work.
“But they couldn’t save him. Afterwards we were just in a daze, in shock.
“I couldn’t believe that someone who was supposed to love him could do that.
“After that it was a case of helping Donna recover and you then just have to get on with it, you have to stay strong.
“Having my family around me helped me do that – they were brilliant.”
Hawkins was convicted of murder and attempted murder at Leeds Crown Court last month and jailed for at least 21 years.
Valerie said: “I don’t think that’s long enough. Ryan would only have been 25.”
The family have moved out of the Hill Top home in Slaithwaite where they lived with Ryan and are now living in Ainley Top.
Teresa Lockwood, of Co-operative Funeralcare, who helped organise the fundraising for the holiday, said she had been overwhelmed by the generosity of people in Slaithwaite.
She said: “I was in a bit of a panic when we first started fundraising, because £5,000 is a lot of money.
“But it has just taken care of itself and I was surprised by how quickly it all came together.
“Everyone got involved, especially the businesses in Slaithwaite, who donated everything from a box of chocolates to a PVC door for an auction that we had.
“I can’t speak for anywhere else, but it certainly proves that, in Slaithwaite, community spirit is alive and well.”
The fund received £500 from the Joseph Salmon Trust, set up in memory of the Marsh three-year-old who died from pneumonia.
Joseph’s dad, Neil Salmon, said: “For a parent, losing a child is a tragedy in itself.
“For Ryan’s mother and his sisters, the tragedy was worsened by the manner in which he died. Although a donation from the Joseph Salmon Trust cannot bring Ryan back, we nevertheless hope that it will go some way towards easing his family’s pain.”