Sister of tragic teen Henry Hicks raises thousands for bereaved families
- Credit: Archant
In December, 23-year-old Claudia Hicks was devastated when her younger brother Henry was killed in a moped crash while being chased by police.
“We were completely heartbroken,” she says. “It’s the worst thing that could ever happen.”
The Hicks family held a £15,000 funeral for 18-year-old Henry, which was attended by thousands. But Claudia, who lives in Islington, is keenly aware that not many people could have afforded to pay so much.
“You don’t expect your son or daughter to die when they’re so young – so it’s not something that you plan for,” she points out. “Fortunately we have a big family and a lot of people around us, so we could pay. But obviously a lot of people are not in that situation. Many single parents can just about get by – and when you’re stuck with a funeral bill, you think: how the hell am I going to do it?”
Costs can easily spiral into five figures, she says.
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“We had Henry cremated, but if you want a grave it’s another £2,000 for the plot then another £2,000 for the headstone. Then, with the funeral cards, coffin, flowers and the wake, everything adds up.”
Claudia has decided to use her experience to help others who are facing similar tragedies.
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In February, she set up the Henry Hicks Foundation, a charity that helps grieving families with unexpected funeral costs.
This week, she was named Inspirational Fundraiser of the Year in the London category at the Pride of Britain Awards, set to be aired tonight (Thursday).
“I was shocked. I wasn’t expecting it,” she says. “Hopefully, it will help us raise awareness and raise more money so we can help families across the UK.”
For her part, she has sold off some of Henry’s possessions for the fund and organised a number of fundraising events – from skydiving to football matches and disco nights.
Several celebrities have lent their support to the charity, including Birds of a Feather star Linda Robson, who is a trustee of the foundation.
To date, it has raised thousands of pounds and been able to help several bereaved families – mainly in London – including the families of two victims of stabbings.
“I think the reason there’s so much support is that my brother was such a normal person,” says Claudia.
“People look at him and think: ‘That could be my child’. He wasn’t a gang member: he went to school, went to work and did everything you’re supposed to do.”
Her brother was killed in December when his moped collided with cars outside Pentonville Prison in Holloway while being pursued by police.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission is investigating the death and has already served four officers involved in the chase with gross misconduct notices, although this does not imply blame. The watchdog is yet to conclude its investigation.
Henry’s relatives have claimed that he was hounded by police in the three years leading up to the tragedy.
As well as raising much-needed funds, the Henry Hicks Foundation has helped keep alive the memory of Claudia’s brother, who was well-liked in the community.
“He was well known for helping people. I think that’s why this charity has worked so well, because it’s something that he would have done himself.”