The Birth of AJ And Friends: A Journey of Hope and Support 


AJ And Friends: A Beacon of Hope for Families 


At the heart of AJ And Friends lies a story of resilience, determination, and unwavering love. It all began in 2015 when AJ, born Andrew Junior, entered this world. From the very start, life proved to be a series of unexpected challenges for AJ and his family. 


AJ’s parents, facing the reality of their son’s complex needs, embarked on a journey of learning and adaptation. They acquired new skills to ensure AJ received the specialized care he required, such as feeding him with specialist bottles due to his cleft palate. However, as the months passed, it became evident that AJ was not meeting developmental milestones and faced additional difficulties. 


One particularly distressing issue arose when AJ’s parents noticed that he would turn pale and seemingly stop breathing while sleeping. Numerous visits to the emergency room and even receiving mouth-to-mouth resuscitation from his mother highlighted the urgency to find answers. It was AJ’s mother, Beverley Williams, the founder of AJ And Friends, who tirelessly researched and advocated for further tests, suspecting sleep apnoea as the culprit. 


And her persistence paid off. Tests confirmed AJ’s sleep apnoea, leading to the necessity of overnight and daytime ventilation while he slept. It was a new chapter for the family, as they embraced the challenges of incorporating this life-sustaining routine into their lives. But the hurdles did not end there. 


Epilepsy soon emerged, casting its dark shadow over AJ’s already complex needs. The family sought diagnostic tests, including EEGs, which confirmed the presence of epilepsy and hypsarrhythmia. These additional diagnoses intensified the complexity of AJ’s care. 


Fast forward a little and AJ had spent his first year battling various episodes, becoming a familiar face among nurses and specialists. A devastating blow came when specialist neurology teams at an older hospital revealed the grim truth: AJ lived with a mitochondrial disease, and the prognosis was bleak. Palliative care became the path forward, leaving the family with uncertain timelines. 


In the face of such adversity, AJ’s family resolved to expose him to as many positive experiences as possible. They embarked on pilgrimages, searching for miracles and cherishing every moment spent together. But fate had other plans. 


In February 2018, AJ’s health took a sudden turn for the worse. Within hours, he found himself at Manchester Children’s Hospital, clinging to life with the help of a life support machine. The doctors delivered a crushing blow, expressing doubt that AJ would survive if placed on the machine. The family prepared for the worst, but AJ’s mother, Beverley, refused to give up hope. 


In a moment of profound desperation and determination, Beverley borrowed a pen from the nurses and scraps of paper from the hospital. At AJ’s bedside, she sketched out the vision for AJ And Friends, a service that would provide unparalleled support for children with complex additional needs and their families. This was her promise, her hope to create something extraordinary in honour of AJ’s enduring spirit. 


The name AJ And Friends was born out of love and remembrance, ensuring that AJ’s legacy would forever be intertwined with the service’s purpose. The “FRIENDS” in the logo represents hope, friendship, and meaningful connections. It symbolizes the vital support systems, advice, and acceptance that families need when navigating the challenges of caring for a child with complex needs. 


AJ And Friends, rooted in the lived experience of one family, aims to reduce social isolation, offer support, and provide a sense of community. The logo’s depiction of the rising sun serves as a reminder that hope always emerges, even amid the darkest times. Each new day brings the promise of possibilities, and AJ And Friends strives to be a beacon of hope for families in need. 


Through the hardships, pain, and suffering they endured, AJ’s family developed AJ And Friends as a testament to the power of love, resilience, and the unwavering hope for something better. Their story is one of triumph over adversity, and it is with open hearts and open arms that AJ And Friends welcomes families into a community of understanding, compassion, and support. 




On the AJ And Friends website, this story can be shared on a dedicated page, allowing visitors to connect with the emotional journey that led to the formation of the organization. 


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