'He'll always have a place in our home': Big-hearted mother takes in her tragic friend's only son, 10, after she loses her battle with ovarian cancer and says he's 'part of the family'

  • Ellen McNulty, 52, took in Lewis Train, 10, who was at school with her son?
  • Lewis's mother, Sharon Stokle, died of ovarian cancer at the age of 50
  • Ellen is crowdfunding to raise money to feed an extra head?

A kind-hearted woman has given a home to her friend's son, after she lost her battle with ovarian cancer – a disease she had also fought and beaten herself 12 years earlier.

Ellen McNulty, 52, used her knowledge of the illness to help fellow mother, Sharon Stokle - whose boy, Lewis Train, 10, was at school with her son - after she was diagnosed, aged 50.

Bridal shop owner Ellen, of Middlesbrough, Teeside, who, with her IT consultant husband, Keith, 53, adopted her two children, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said: 'Sharon didn't want to die. She was so worried about Lewis, especially once she knew she would not recover, as he was an only child. She knew that I had had ovarian cancer 12 years ago and she turned to me for advice.'

But the couple, who had already looked after Lewis if Sharon was too ill to cope, or needed hospital treatment, offered to take him in if she passed away, promising to treat him like family.

Ellen McNulty, 52, pictured with husband Keith, took in Lewis Train, 10, who was at school with her son - after his mother died of cancer age 50

Ellen McNulty, 52, pictured with husband Keith, took in Lewis Train, 10, who was at school with her son - after his mother died of cancer age 50

The couple had already looked after Lewis if Sharon, right, was too ill to cope, or needed hospital treatment

The couple had already looked after Lewis if Sharon, right, was too ill to cope, or needed hospital treatment

'I didn't want Sharon to be worried,' Ellen continued. 'Lewis was her world. She had so much to be worried about and I just wanted to allay her fears, so she knew he would be looked after, alongside other children.

'It's not always easy, but I have no regrets, I was with her and Lewis through the illness and they became such a big part of our lives. Lewis is like part of our family now.'

Ellen, who adopted her children three-and-a-half years ago after her own ovarian cancer battle meant she needed a hysterectomy, befriended Sharon after her own son and Lewis joined the same school class and became pals.

Sharon had split up with Lewis' dad, warehouse operative Stewart Train, 43, but they remained great friends.

'As Lewis was an only child, she liked him to have pals over, or to have someone with him on days out, so we soon became friends,' Ellen said. 'Sharon was a lovely, humble woman and a fantastic mum to Lewis and we just enjoyed having a chat while the boys played.'

Clerical assistant Sharon first discovered she was ill in June this year when, after years of saving, she took Lewis on a dream holiday to Florida

Clerical assistant Sharon first discovered she was ill in June this year when, after years of saving, she took Lewis on a dream holiday to Florida

Clerical assistant Sharon first discovered she was ill in June this year when, after years of saving, she took Lewis on a dream holiday to Florida. She felt unwell but, not wanting to ruin his holiday, did not seek help while they were there.

'I think she knew it was something serious, but she didn't want Lewis to see her upset, or to spoil the holiday they had waited so long for,' Ellen continued.

But, as soon as they returned to the UK, Sharon went to Middlesbrough's James Cook Hospital, where she was diagnosed with stage four ovarian cancer.

'She was devastated,' said Ellen. 'Immediately, I told her we would look after Lewis. Initially, it was just while she was in hospital, but it soon became clear her illness was terminal.

'I don't think we realised how quickly she would deteriorate and she never talked about it, but we knew Lewis could live with us for as long as he needed to.

'He may be staying with us, but Stewart is still a great dad to Lewis and sees him regularly. He is helping him hugely to come to terms with losing Sharon.'

Since the family moved to a new house in August, Lewis has been sharing a bedroom, but they are planning to turn their spare room into his own personal space.

Ellen, who also helped care for Sharon, who was back and forth to hospital throughout her illness, recalled: 'Knowing Lewis would be cared for brought a lot of comfort to her.

'She spent the week before she died at home and the day before she passed, I went to see her. She was struggling to breathe, but she grabbed my arm and said, 'Ellen, thank you for everything you have done.' That was really the last thing she said to me. It meant a lot to me.'

When Sharon took her last breath on October 20, she was at home with Lewis and her dad.

Since then, Stewart and Ellen and Keith have all helped the grieving boy to cope with her funeral and with returning to school, without his mum by his side.

Ellen also helped care for Sharon, who was back and forth to hospital throughout her illness

Ellen also helped care for Sharon, who was back and forth to hospital throughout her illness

Sharon, left, left him a memory box of stuff she'd kept as Lewis grew up
He has that to look through to remember his mother

Sharon, left, left him a memory box of stuff she'd kept as Lewis grew up. He has that to look through to remember his mother

Sharon and Lewis are pictured in Florida on their final holiday together before she passed

Sharon and Lewis are pictured in Florida on their final holiday together before she passed

'It has been hard for him, but he has fitted into our family amazingly,' said Ellen. 'Going from living with Sharon and regularly seeing his dad, to living with two adults and two other children is a big change for him, but I think having people around all the time helps keep him busy at the moment.

'We talk about his mum all the time and she is very much part of his life. He collected the Christmas decorations from their house and we're going to put some of them up at ours.

'Sharon left him a memory box of stuff she'd kept as he grew up, too, and he has that to look through. We've put pictures of her up for him as well.'

To help with the added cost of keeping another child, Ellen has launched a crowdfunding page.

Lewis is now living with Ellen's family but she is crowdfunding to save money to feed an extra head

Lewis is now living with Ellen's family but she is crowdfunding to save money to feed an extra head

She said: 'Having another mouth to feed can be stressful and sometimes we do worry about it.

'We want to have some money set aside for Lewis, so set up the GoFundMe page just to have a little bit extra for him. The response has been amazing and Lewis is overwhelmed.

'Lewis will be with us for as long as he wants to be and there will always be a space for him in our home.'

Meanwhile, Stewart is working hard to help him deal with his devastating grief and hopes to provide a home for him in the future.

He said: 'I adore everything about my son and would do anything for him.' To donate to the page, visit http://www.demoraliserband.com/looking-after-lewis?

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