‘Xmas is tough after my son took his life – so I’m using the day to give back’

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    A mum who lost her son to suicide is giving up her Christmas morning at home to go out on the streets to feed the homeless instead.

    Claire Fry will do so on behalf of a mental health charity she set up after her boy’s tragic death.

    Tommy Thwaites ended his life aged just 25 after falling into a depression as a consequence of being glassed in the face and stabbed for being gay.

    READ MORE: Wedding day 'bloodbath' brawl at posh hotel sees nine family members jailed

    His distraught mum, a qualified criminologist, later launched Tommy’s Rainbow Charity Trust to help people struggling with their mental health.

    More than 3,500 people have already used her services to get better – and this Christmas Claire is going to do her bit for those without homes.

    The selfless mum told us: “Tommy has been passed for three years now and during Christmas I got into a sort of fight mode.

    “You focus and think about what you have to do and that’s how my brain works. I try not to think about what happened because if I do I will probably just crash. I try to put all my energy into people who are out there who are still alive who haven’t got any family or they have been disowned by family or whatever the reason.

    “They’ve got no Christmas dinner, they haven’t got presents and I tend to steer in that direction if that makes sense.”

    And a statement on her charity’s Facebook page read: “We have decided to give up our Christmas morning to feed the homeless, please any turkeys in a tin vegetable [and] Xmas puddings, mince pies.

    “We will also be needing sleeping bags, hats, gloves, scarves etc. Please if you could all be so kind to donate hats, gloves, scarfs, sleeping bags [and] any puddings as well would be greatly appreciated.”

    And in a previous interview with the Daily Star, Claire opened up about the devastating loss of her son.

    The emotional mum told us: “My son killed himself because he was ashamed of being gay.

    “Before he was happy with his life and sexuality. But he completely changed after that attack and was never the same again. The attack stripped my son of who he was. He completely changed and wanted to die.”

    A nervous Tommy told his mum he was gay when he was 16 but he was met with love.

    Claire remembered: “He came home from school and told me. It wasn’t a surprise to anybody else but it was to me.

    “I’m a bit native. Tommy was really upset and said he only cared what I thought. I told him I really didn’t care about his sexuality and I loved him so much.”

    She added: “If it was your birthday he would be the first to give you a hug. He was so caring and tried so hard to make everyone around him happy.”

    Tommy was set upon my homophobic thugs who called him a “gay batty boy” at the Dusk2Dawn nightclub in Maidstone, Kent, in June 2015.

    He was glassed and knifed in the stomach during the horrifying ordeal – but nobody ever faced justice.

    The number of hate crimes based on sexual orientation recorded by the police in 2017/18 was 11,592 compared to 26,152 in 2021/22, an increase of 55%.

    Mum-of-four Claire said: “Something really needs to change and more needs to be done. People can't get away with homophobic attacks and there needs to be stricter sentencing.

    "Some people think it's acceptable but it's a hate crime for a reason."

    Tommy's family said he mentally never recovered from the incident and in November 2019 Claire got a chilling call to say her son had taken his own life.

    Claire now dedicates her time to Tommy’s Rainbow Charity Trust, describing it as a go-between for the patients and different health services. It also now has its own walk-in centre in Maidstone.

    And on the third anniversary of Tommy’s death last month, she wrote: “I still sit here and still feel like a dream.

    “I love my Angel with all my heart, my heart will never be the same again. I carry on for my children and I carry on for the charity, saving lives is all that matters and giving people a chance to live again.”

    Claire is currently studying a masters in law and mental health and her recent life-saving work has meant she will be a speaker at NHS conferences next year.

    For emotional support, you can call the Samaritans 24-hour helpline on 116 123, email [email protected], visit a Samaritans branch in person or go to the Samaritans website

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