The mum of a teenager who died after playing football has described their “happy” last day together – and said it was “almost like it was meant to be”.
Kellum Thomas, 13, was struck down by a fatal cardiac arrest moments after he returned from a kickabout with friends in Nottingham on June 9.
Mum Jodie Wilson had been left devastated but has decided she wants to use the tragedy for good – and now wants to raise awareness around first aid training in schools.
She has also revealed that Chelsea FC – Kellum’s favourite team – have offered their support since his death, with captain César Azpilicueta penning a letter of condolence.
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Jodie, from Top Valley, told the Mirror that her son rushed home from school on the day of his death and was supposed to be doing chores.
But his best friend came calling and asked if he wanted to play outside, which the mum said she could not say no to due to the cheeky grin on his face.
Jodie, 31, said that Kellum had suffered a cardiac arrest five years previously so was living with a heart problem, but this did not get in the way of his love for sport.
She said: “He said: ‘Mum, see you later – love you’. He looked a bit hot [when he returned], but nothing out of the ordinary.
“He had been living with this condition – palpitations, missing beats, extra beats – on a daily basis. It felt like his heart was beating faster anyway.”
Jodie said she told Kellum, who suffered from autism, to get a drink when he walked through the door, which he did, before he went upstairs – and collapsed.
“That was it. He went upstairs to the toilet and passed out,” she said. “I heard a bang.”
Jodie then dialled 999 and an ambulance arrived in just two minutes – but it was already too late.
He was taken to hospital where there were further attempts to resuscitate him, but he was sadly pronounced dead.
She said: “They did everything they could. Nine out of 10 people don’t survive. He was that one in 10 five years ago.
“Me and his dad, we said we have had this extra five years with him – that was the reason we let him have his independence.
“He was having fun when he died. He was nice to me, he was with his best friend. He wouldn’t have felt a thing.
“It’s almost bittersweet, but he was happy. It’s almost like it was meant to be. It was a really good day. He came home from school happy.
“He was a loving boy, mindful, caring – just a really good boy, all round. He was my best friend.”
The mum-of-three said the death has also taken its toll on Kellum’s younger brothers, aged three and nine.
She added: “It’s really upset his [older] brother – he couldn’t understand. He said: ‘He said he was coming back to play with me’.”
Jodie is now devoting her efforts to raising awareness about first aid training in schools.
She said that, although Kellum died at home, it could have been while he was out – and his friends might not have known what to do.
“God forbid it had happened on the field,” she said.
“At least I know that I got to him straight away. If there was any chance of him surviving, I gave him that chance.
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“It should definitely be touched upon [in schools]. There’s RE, and sex education – surely first aid is important?
“If I can just help one child – I just want more people to be aware.”
Jodie also revealed that there are plans for a memorial plaque for Kellum to be placed at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea FC’s home ground.
His funeral – which she described as “beautiful” – had a Chelsea theme, with shirts and blue and white balloons adoring a shrine.
She added: “He was the biggest Chelsea fan going.”
A club spokesman said: “Everyone at Chelsea Football Club was deeply saddened to hear of Kellum’s passing. His family and friends remain in our thoughts as they continue to come to terms with his loss.”