‘My Children Were One And Three When I Underwent Brain Surgery… The Thought Of Leaving My Kids Without A Mummy Will Stay With Me Forever’

Jo Tutchener-Sharp, founder of Scamp & Dude, on learning that from darkness can come light.

Scamp & Dude

by Jo Tutchener-Sharp |
Updated on

I was 39 when I had to face the fact that my life might be about to end when I suffered a brain haemorrhage and discovered a lump on my brain. My children were just one and three when I underwent brain surgery and although facing death was terrifying, it was the thought of leaving my kids without a mummy that will stay with me forever.

It’s true what people say about finding yourself at the pearly gates when you think you’re about to die. I couldn’t stop asking myself if I was proud of how I’d lived my life. I knew I’d been a good person, but I kept asking myself whether I‘d done enough good and couldn’t get rid of this awful sinking feeling knowing that it might be too late to make a change. I made a pact with myself that if I made it through my surgery, I would find a way to help people and do more good.

Saying goodbye to my children to go into theatre was hands down the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. I’d left letters for my whole family hidden around the house which they would have discovered if I hadn’t made it through. There was no way I could tell them how I was feeling before the surgery as emotions were so high as we were all so desperately trying to keep it together.

Thankfully I woke from my surgery to the most unbelievable sense of euphoria, partly to do with the amount of morphine in my body, but I’d also woken with a new fire in my belly and a new intense appreciation of life. I’d been given a second chance and I was going to make the most of it.

I had to spend 10 days recovering in hospital and as one side of my head was shaved with 20 staples holding together a pretty gruesome cut, I couldn’t let my kids see me. Being separated from my boys was extremely hard on us all but it was that ache in my heart that inspired the creation of Scamp & Dude.

Jo Tutchener-Sharp
©Jo Tutchener-Sharp

I came up with the idea behind our (first product) Superhero Sleep Buddies when I wished I’d been able to give my boys a Superhero to watch over them while we were apart. I imagined a pocket on the back of a cuddly Superhero which could have held my photo to show them I was still close. The thought of creating these little Superheroes and donating one to a child who loses a parent for every one sold became my get well goal. I felt like I’d been given a second chance at life and had a burning desire to give back and help other people so threw myself into finding a manufacturer to make these special little Superheroes. What started with these Superheroes soon snowballed into a fashion line (with my fashion degree coming into use at last!).

My brush with death inspired me to create a brand that fills both adults and kids with superpowers when they need it most, comforting kids who have to be apart from their loved ones and helping those having a really hard time.

In 2016, Scamp & Dude launched into Liberty of London offering a vibrant superpower infused fashion brand with a huge heart known for it’s colourful leopard & lightning bolt loungewear. Our slogan ‘a Superhero has my back’ tells kids that someone is watching over them and the ‘Superpower Button’ features on each garment to give the wearer a burst of superpowers. Fast forward four years and although Scamp & Dude started off life as a kid’s brand, it became clear early on that adults were enjoying a boost of superpowers too. Today the womenswear division now makes up 80% of the collection and has been worn by the likes of Liv Tyler, Fearne Cotton, Billie Piper, Laura Whitmore and Emma Willis.

Scamp & Dude is much more than just a fashion brand. At our very heart is purpose and giving back; for each Superhero Sleep Buddy sold, another is donated to a child who has lost a parent or is seriously ill themselves. Likewise, for the Super Scarves (fronted by Billie Piper), for every scarf sold, another is donated to a woman with cancer or a mother of a child with cancer. To date, we have donated over 3500 Superhero Sleep Buddies, 1500 Super Scarves and over 1500 superpower infused sweatshirts to people having a really hard time and we will keep going.

From missing my children and worrying about leaving them without a mum, to creating a brand that helps thousands of people feel more secure when apart from their loved ones. My story is a positive reminder that from darkness can come light.

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