Sometimes life takes you down a path where you meet the most beautiful and kind people. This happened to me recently at an event held by the Women’s and Children’s’ Hospital Foundation where Lauren was the MC. Thank you to Lauren and Hayley and the Adelady team for taking the time to interview me and publish the below blog on their website.
You can read more of their fabulous Blogs here.
Originally featured on Adelady – written by Millie Looker and Lauren De Cesare
Sometimes you meet people, and they instantly become a friend… you see a special spark in them that draws you in. That’s what I felt when I first met Ella. I was MCing a very special high tea at Adelaide Oval with the Golden Angels, raising money for the Women’s and Children’s Hospital Foundation.
A blurry photo of me and my new friend, Ella (far left).
My job that day was to interview two women who had lost their children to rare diseases. It was incredibly emotional, but I’m so grateful that I got the chance to be a part of it because it lead me to this very special lady who I admire, respect and feel that if there were more people on this earth like her, the world would be a better place.
This Inspirational Adelady is the creator of a hugely successful charity — the HAS Foundation, which was started in memory of her eldest son, Hunter Alfred Stratton. Ella Stratton is a mum of three boys, who has faced some incredibly difficult times and continued on to create something beautiful, that will help hundreds of families in the years to come.
The HAS Foundation‘s motto is “live for the moment, love for a lifetime”, which is a message we all need to live by. We are so humbled by you, Ella — thank you for sharing your story and being an inspirational Adelady.
My name is Ella Stratton, I am a mother of 3 amazing boys. Hunter 16, Tex 13, Oakley 10. I am married to a man I had a crush on when I was 7 and we’ve been together for over 22 years.
I am a Wife and Mother first but have volunteered with various charities for around 6 years, been on the school Parents & Friends Committee’s the whole time my boys have been at school and now have embarked on a new adventure of starting and running our own foundation, raising money for Paediatric Palliative Care families.
We started the HAS Foundation (Hunter Alfred Stratton) late last year after we lost our eldest son Hunter over 4 years ago.
Hunter was born a beautiful, healthy baby in Christ Church, New Zealand.
At 8 weeks of age, we started noticing some funny signs which we found out were seizures.
After 3 weeks in hospital over in N.Z, we needed to come home to be with family and needed more support from the Woman’s and Children’s Hospital.
Hunter had to be fully sedated and we had a medical team retrieve us on a private plane to fly us home.
The next 11-year journey with Hunter had many highs and lows. In and out of the hospital, many specialist and therapist appointments, and many scary procedures. But luckily we also had many amazing fun family adventures that we pushed to take him on.
Plus we were blessed with two more baby boys, which enriched our lives, filled our broken hearts and made us feel like a normal family.
2. What’s your daily mantra?
My daily mantra came from watching too many kids movies while being at home with 3 young boys. Dory from Finding Nemo is so happy and cheerful even though things are overwhelming and tough. So “keep on swimming” is what I have said to myself over and over again when times seem tough. You can’t give up, you just have to keep moving forward.
3. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
I have had so many people give great advice over the years, but the simplest are often the best.
“If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say it at all”.
I think kindness is the key to everything.
4. Who is the person that you look up to the most?
I have always looked up to my Grandma who is 90 years young, still cooking, cleaning, gardening and works hard for her local community fundraising.
Her family has always come first and she has always held her head high, helped others, and been so strong through difficult times in her life.
The other biggest inspiration is my eldest son Hunter.
He had so much against him and he hardly ever complained, was just so happy to be with people and listen. He taught me so much about compassion, strength, what matters most and love.
5. What’s your favourite place in SA?
We love going to the river to ski, relax and spend family time together, it is so beautiful on the river. Middleton and Port Elliott are also a summer favourite. The beaches, shops and community down there is always a lot of fun. There are so many great places to hire these days.
6. When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
When I was little I wanted to be famous like lots of little kids!
I modelled from around 13 years old and wanted to be a 90’s supermodel, but didn’t grow tall enough. I also used to go to dress-up parties as a bride as all I wanted to do was get married and have babies. So I guess one dream came true!!
7. We love to celebrate the little wins. What is one of your greatest achievements?
Starting the HAS Foundation has been a huge achievement. I had been a stay at home Mum for 17 years so pushing myself out of my comfort zone to get a board together, hold meetings and put together events was very daunting.
Since starting in August 2018 we have raised over $100,000 to help support the Paediatric Palliative care service here in SA. We are starting up some programs ourselves plus supporting various other charities who provide a service for these families doing it really tough.
8. What advice would you have for other people going through a hard time?
The advice I would give anyone with a sick child like we had would be to find out more about the Palliative care service. We all think it means the last few days or weeks of life but it is actually about creating life!
Knowing that you do have limited time, months, years or even decades together doesn’t mean its time to give in, its time to make the best of every minute.
I think that goes for all families, take as many photos as you can, go away together, create memories and even when we all have bad days and get grumpy try and remember how lucky you are to have loved ones and to make the most of every day together.