THE memory of one smiling little boy is helping dozens of parents survive the ultimate heartbreak of losing their own child.
Toddler Daniel Estick died suddenly of septacemia – blood poisoning – shortly before his second birthday two years ago.
He went from being healthy to lifeless in the space of just seven hours, leaving his parents crippled with shock and grief.
His mum Claire, who runs the Plough pub at Simpson with husband Ian, said: “On the Friday morning we noticed the rash and took him to the doctor. We were sent to A&E and by 7pm we had lost him. He was gone.”
The cause of the septacemia still remains a mystery, despite a post mortem and an inquest.
“The day before he died Daniel was a normal, healthy child – a happy little man, full of life and very caring to others,” said Claire.
She and Ian, through their heartbreak, found themselves clinging on to memories of Daniel, collecting snapshots and precious mementoes in those bleak weeks following his death.
“I realised we needed a memory box to store these things safely but I couldn’t find one anywhere. I had to trawl through the Internet to buy one,” said Claire, who also bought a box for Daniel’s brother Jamie, now six.
“It helped Jamie and it definitely helped us. We thought how nice it would be if every bereaved parents were given these one of these boxes in Daniel’s memory.
“It would bring them some comfort so they can remember the happy times they had with their children and they can share those memories with others who maybe didn’t get the chance to meet these special kids.”
She and Ian found a Bletchley company, G Ryder and Co Ltd, who are specialist box makers by appointment to Her Majesty the Queen.
They formed the Daniel Estick Trust and, with the help of willing customers in the pub and friends in their home town of Woburn Sands, set about raising money to buy a constant supply of boxes.
These can be decorated by the parents however they wish.
“We now provide memory boxes for Milton Keynes hospital, Willen Hospice and Keech Cottage and we also donate equipment for the community nurses at the hospital,” said 37-year-old Claire.
“Our aim is to offer these boxes to as many children’s hospices and hospitals as possible throughout the UK.”
On March 13, 60 people, including Claire and Ian themselves, will run the MK Half Marathon to boost the Trust’s funds by several thousands of pounds.
“We are determined to spread some happiness too with this money, so we will use some of it to pay for trips out for families who have not been bereaved,” said Claire, who now has a daughter Isabelle, aged eight months.
“Losing Daniel so suddenly has made us realise that parents should make the most of every precious moment with their children. We just want the children to have fun.
“Already we’ve run trips to the zoo and trips to a pantomime. They’ve gone really well.”
Until now the Daniel Estick Trust has been operating quietly in the background, with no fuss.
“With the second anniversary of Daniel’s death this week we wanted to try to make people aware of the Trust, our aims and how we’ve grown over the past 12 months,” said Claire.
The Trust gives its memory boxes free to parents who have lost a child. But it also sells them to people wanting to celebrate happy events such as births, christenings or weddings.
> Anyone wanting to buy a blank memory box or help the Trust by fund-raising can view www.thedanielesticktrust.co.uk