TRACY Davies suffered every parent’s worst nightmare in 2017.

Son Ross Saxton-Davies had just received unexpected, terrifying and devastating news.

He discovered he had skin cancer in the form of malignant melanoma and it had spread to four of his internal organs.

Tragically, Ross died within eight weeks of his diagnosis, at the age of just 27.

From sorrow and heartache grew a mother’s passion to not let other young people die in fear.

Tracy vowed to build something positive and launched her own charity, Ending Life’s Taboo, working with Colchester Hospital.

After Ross’ death, she thought about his last weeks in hospital and the need for him to have been able to speak to someone about his inner thoughts.

Although the family was close, it was difficult for him to discuss what was happening.

Tracy became passionate about challenging society’s view of death and dying, with an aim of improving the quality of end-of-life care for young adults.

She was positive that being able to talk to someone professionally-trained would have improved his mental health and reduced his emotional pain.

“Young people approaching their end of life go through a similar grief process to those left behind,” said the 57-year-old, who lives in Coggeshall.

Gazette: Special memories - Ross Saxton-Davies (second from the left) with sister Toni Jolin, brother Dean Saxton and nephew Jacob Jolin

Special memories - Ross Saxton-Davies (second from the left) with sister Toni Jolin, brother Dean Saxton and nephew Jacob Jolin

“They grieve for the life they thought they were going to have and for the people they will be leaving.

“I want to give young people aged 18 to 40, who are facing a terminal illness, an opportunity to access psychological support and that’s why we decided to launch Ending Life’s Taboo.

“We often shy away from talking about something so painful but, in all honesty, it’s something every single human has in common. We will, at some point, all die.

“When we are young, we don’t think it’s something that seems a reality but when faced with being told you have a terminal illness everything comes crashing down - hopes, dreams, aspirations.

“Time is no longer an option.

“Ending Life’s Taboo aims to offer rapid access to counselling and support to young people, facing the most vulnerable time in their lives.

“The families of the young person will also be supported and we can offer a service that makes passing as peaceful as possible.

“Quite often, even when their disease is advanced, young people undergo intrusive surgical and medical interventions in the hope it prolongs the time they have left.

“But it’s important that at this time, the young person also has access to mental health interventions.

“I want Ross’ legacy to ensure the support is there for these young people when they need it.”

Tracy, who has worked in the finance sector for 39 years, with the last five as finance officer at Colchester’s North Primary School and Nursery, approached Dr Hattie Roebuck, the consultant palliative care consultant at Colchester Hospital.

Together they developed her charity idea, to find out if there was an absence of support.

As it turned out, the service was needed so much that Dr Hattie agreed to join the board of trustees and has been pivotal in supporting the charity’s work within Colchester Hospital.

Ending Life’s Taboo has also been supported by St Helena Hospice, Macmillan and Colchester Hospital and is based at hospital’s Cancer Wellbeing Centre.

It was awarded charity status in May 2021.

Dr Hattie said: “All healthcare professionals who work with young people know how hard facing a terminal illness is for them and their families.

“My colleagues are delighted to have a new counselling service specifically to help support these young people.”


Ross’ family have raised thousands of pounds for Melanoma UK and St Helena Hospice.

However, now it is time to fundraise for their own charity.

Gillian Nuttall, chief executive of Melanoma UK, has gifted £2,000 from Melanoma UK.

Meanwhile, a Colchester Catalyst grant of £10,000 was secured earlier this year and the charity’s work started in Colchester Hospital in early June.

Family and friends are taking part in the London to Brighton cycle ride on September 19 and the Colchester Stampede on October 10.

Tracy said: “It’s difficult to start a charity and also to gain grants when the service is completely new, as the level of need and outcomes are difficult to evidence.

“I’m really grateful to Rod Appleyard, of Colchester Catalyst, and the board of trustees for awarding the grant to Ending Life’s Taboo.

“It’s really helping us deliver the service in our first year.

“Ending Life’s Taboo is not the usual counselling approach of a set number of weeks and times of support.

“Young people still need to live at this time and it’s only right that support is delivered when they need to talk.

“They shouldn’t have to wait for support and it should fit in with their lifestyle and treatment.”

Young adults are being supported by the charity’s counsellor, Lynda Smith - an experienced counsellor who has worked for many years at St Helena Hospice.

To find out more about the charity, the trustees and fundraising events, visit

The charity is also active on Facebook and Instagram.