Hannah, Olivia and Rochelle Bugg who are spending their first Christmas without mum Shirley

Ipswich: Brave trio pull together for their first Christmas without popular mum Shirley Bugg

Monday, December 24, 2012
9.00 AM

THREE brave sisters are closing ranks as they face the first Christmas without their popular mother.

Rochelle, Olivia, and Hannah held Shirley Bugg’s hand as she lost her battle with a brain tumour aged 56 earlier this year.

Christmas for the girls, who lost their father James to pancreatic cancer in 2000, will be just the three of them at home in Ravenswood, Ipswich.

Rochelle, a former pupil at Saint Felix School in Southwold, said: “Lots of people have invited us round but we’ve all sat down and discussed it - we don’t know how we going to be and we don’t want to have to put on a brave face on when we don’t want to.

“It’s been difficult because I think what’s the point in putting up a tree or writing Christmas cards? But then you catch yourself and say ‘come on, make an effort’ and hopefully in the future it will get easier. I just keep expecting mum to burst through the door.”

Shirley left her post at Ipswich High School for Girls after falling ill in November 2010 – symptoms that were thought to be from a mini-stroke. But further scans revealed a tumour and the positioning of the growth on the brain stem meant doctors could not operate. Shirley, who also taught at Saint Felix School, died at home in April surrounded by her daughters.

Rochelle became an online hit when she launched a blog (www.abuggslife.com) describing how she was coping with the progression of her mother’s disease.

The 27-year-old, who is moving to Manchester next month to be a freelance copywriter, said she hopes to turn the blog into a book to help people going through similar ordeals.

Reflecting on the last year she said: “When I try to be normal that’s when I realise there’s something missing. I started back at work and I called mum on the first day to tell her how it was going but then I realise she wasn’t there.

“It’s the same with Christmas - it’s something that’s always been there and I have taken it for granted.

“We have all tried to keep busy as much as possible but there was a three-week period in September/October of the anniversary of my dad’s death, then my parents’ wedding anniversary, then my mum’s birthday and then my dad’s birthday.

“It was especially tough because it reminded us over and over again that they are not there anymore.

“But the situation could be so much worse. When I’m feeling down I just think back to this time last year and if we can make it through that - when she was ill and we did Christmas - we can make it through anything.

“I’m ready to start afresh and when something like this happens it makes you realise there’s so much out there to experience.”