Grieving woman creates 'Christmas tree' out of ladders to honour late dad

Christmas can be tough when you’re grieving.

But those who have lost loved ones often come up with creative ways to remember them over this special time.

Belinda Fitness, 45, unexpectedly lost her elderly dad, Rob Leedham, in May this year, just days before his 77th birthday.

After her dad passed away, Belinda went to explore his ‘man cave’ and discovered a pair of ladders he’d used to help the community with odd jobs.

The office manager came up with a genius way to make use of the ladders and honour her dad at the same time, using one as an unconventional ‘Christmas tree’.

Placing the ladder in the living room and draping it with baubles, metres of white beading, and a Santa hat, Belinda, from Sydney, Australia, now has a sweet reminder of her father over the festive period.

‘Dad was very much a straight shooter,’ she said. ‘He was very to the point and thought you got out of life what you put into it.

‘One thing he taught me is you can climb to the top of a ladder and sometimes you fall to the bottom, but the good thing about a ladder is you can always climb up the other side and get to the top again.

‘That was really my inspiration. He was hardworking, loyal and loving.

‘It’s my first Christmas without him and I want to make sure he can still be part of the celebrations.’

Belinda received the devastating call that her father had fallen ill earlier this year and by the time she arrived to see him, he had already passed away.

When helping to sort through his possessions, Belinda then discovered Rob’s ladders and decided to take them home – unaware she would find such a creative use for them months later.

Belinda said: ‘My father was nine days off turning 77. He had a few health concerns but I certainly didn’t expect the call at 5.45am on a Sunday morning to tell me he wasn’t in a good place.

‘I assumed he was being taken to a hospital but when I arrived at the house and all the police and paramedics were there, he was gone.

‘When dad passed, I had the opportunity to go into his man cave and retrieve everything I wanted.

‘Seeing the ladder re-sparked that comment that dad had always shared with me.

‘My father lived on a caravan park on the beach. He was the handyman of the caravan site.

‘This ladder has travelled through years and years of dad’s life and his experiences of helping people.

‘It was certainly something I had to have come with me. He’d had this ladder for a very long time.’

After finishing her memorial ‘tree’, Belinda proudly showed it off to her family, including her son Khye who was especially close to his grandfather.

‘The kids love the tree,’ Belinda added. ‘My son was very close to my dad.

‘Dad didn’t have a lot of value to leave at the end of his life but one thing he left is a special toolbox for my son Khye.

‘Again he was instilling that message that you work hard and get rewards.

‘This will be a yearly tradition now. It might not always be our main tree but it’ll certainly be something that we continue.

‘It’s going to be a quiet Christmas for us this year, it’s going to be tough.

‘The reaction online has been endless with so many heart-warming comments about what a wonderful idea it is and how good it looks.’

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