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Parents of baby who tragically died in his sleep launch fundraiser for bereaved families

By Gregor White

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Despite their loss Albie's family hope their beautiful boy's sad passing can bring some good for others in the fundraising drive he has inspired.
Despite their loss Albie's family hope their beautiful boy's sad passing can bring some good for others in the fundraising drive he has inspired.

A family grieving an unimaginable loss is determined to see some good come of the tragedy that has robbed them of their beloved baby son and brother.

Inverness mum Daisy McKenzie and husband Eoin were delighted to welcome little Albie into the world on April 13 last year.

As his proud mum described it: "He was such a good baby, hardly crying, smiling at everyone, happy to be cuddled by everyone and making silly faces to make us all laugh.

"His first word was ‘clap’, of course accompanied by the action. That was classic Albie, always happy and cheering others on.

"Albie has big blue eyes and long long eyelashes. He had a smile that took over his whole face. He would get all excited and kick his little legs and arms."

A brother to Caden, Jacob and Milo he was equally precious to older sisters Lauren and Amanda and, as Daisy says: "Albie had a busy first year.

"He enjoyed going for toast at Little Fishes, boogying at Moo Music and meeting new friends at his nursery, Les Enfants. He really loved life."

Albie with mum Daisy.
Albie with mum Daisy.

That use of the past tense, though, signals what was to follow – just a few weeks ago, a fortnight after Albie's first birthday.

Daisy said: "On Thursday, April 27 we picked Albie up from nursery. We sneaked into his room so we could catch a glimpse of what he was up to. We were met by a huge smile as he stood at the play dough table.

"He had, as always, had a great day his lovely teachers said."

She continues: "That night Albie went to sleep laughing as his dad tickled his tummy with his nose. He fell asleep happy, safe and so, so loved.

"It was that night Albie fell asleep for the last time and our worlds fell apart. On April 28 Albie had died.

"We found out this was due to Sudden Unexplained Infant Death."

Albie was loved by his three brothers and two older sisters.
Albie was loved by his three brothers and two older sisters.

Daisy said "there is no reason or explanation for it" and, faced with this devastating bolt from the blue the family are, understandably, in her words, "so lost".

But they are also determined not to let themselves be paralysed by grief and, in an act of astonishing generosity aimed at helping others like them, have embarked on a major fundraising drive on behalf of the charity that is now supporting them through the worst time imaginable.

Held in our Hearts is a baby loss support charity which officially launched in Inverness only last month, offering counselling and peer support.

"At a time when we are so lost Held in our Hearts have really supported us," Daisy said.

The charity currently works in Inverness through a room kindly supplied by the city's Glen Mhor Hotel and Apartments offering support for up to two years with one counselling session per week, which costs £50.

The family are working with King's Church in Inverness to take forward fundraising plans under the touching guise of Albie's Gift.

The aim is to do as much fundraising as possible between now and what would have been his second birthday next April.

A quiz night due to be held at the church on August 18 is already fully subscribed but a raffle will be offered online in early August too.

The following month will see a collective effort to stage a sponsored walk covering the equivalent of the length of the UK, with the family hoping to get both individuals and businesses to sign up.

Held in our Hearts fundraising manager Tracy Watt said: "We can’t thank Daisy enough for her incredible support in memory of her precious Albie.

"Being able to continue our vital work in the Highlands is so important. We want to reach as many families as possible and we thank Daisy for being able to pay it forward in her fundraising and making sure that no family go through the trauma of losing their baby alone.

"Daisy has shown incredible courage in helping so many others and we are so truly grateful to her."

Sarah Dowling, co-pastor of King's Church, said it was delighted to do what it can to help.

"Part of our mission is to be 'in the community, for the community' and this is a real embodiment of that – to reach out to help those who need help in a practical way," she said.

"Daisy brought her son to our toddler group, which is how I got to know her, and what she is facing is awful.

"When she told us what she wanted to do I said to her, 'Daisy, are you ready for this? It's a lot to take on.' But she is determined she wants to do something, to have something positive to focus on, and of course we will be there for her."

Iain Fyfe, franchisee of McDonald’s Nairn, and Morven Ball who was co-ordinator of King's Church's Little Fishes parent and toddler group until recently, have already signed up for the charity walk.

Morven said: "The team at King's are doing all we can to support them emotionally and spiritually, but I know we can do even more than that by getting involved in Daisy’s thoughtful and good work of raising funds for Held In Our Hearts.

"Everyone at King’s knows I am up for a challenge when it comes to physical fitness. It is great to support a friend in need, help our community, and do this in honour of a precious wee boy.

"I really look forward to walking a couple of miles a day, whatever the weather, to reach the target of 60 miles in the month. If 19 others sign up to do the same, together we will have walked the whole length of the UK, and we will make funds for a worthy cause and also to help heal the McKenzie family’s hearts."

Daisy said: "I loved taking Albie to King's and everyone there has been so kind. I would like to thank them for all their support."

More details of the fundraising efforts are available via Facebook under Albie's Gift. Anyone interested in taking part in the September walking challenge or helping with any other fundraising can message Daisy from there.

A JustGiving page has also been set up here

More details of the support available from Held in Our Hearts is available here

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