Sarah determined to raise awareness of Cot Death Society

Echo: Memories – but Sarah is raising funds for charity Memories – but Sarah is raising funds for charity

YOU have a baby boy and everything is perfect. Four months later, you take a rare night off, leaving him in the care of his grandparents.

Next, you are battling to save his life. This terrible scenario is one no parent should have to face.

For Sarah Stedeford, 37, from Billericay, this nightmare became a reality on the first night she spent away from her newborn son Matthew, ten years ago.

Sarah, now a mother-of-two, left little Matthew in the care of her parents and Matthew’s dad’s parents so she could have a break and go out with her friends.

She said: “It was just any normal day and I had been to the doctor’s surgery with him. I had gone out for the first time to the Cafe Rouge with some friends in Brentwood and we got back about 1am.

“Matthew had been given a bottle and when I got back I leant in and gave him a kiss. In the middle of the night Matthew’s dad shouted at me and said there was something wrong with him.

“He had got up to see if he was OK and to have a look at Matthew. He immediately knew something was very wrong and I quickly called 999.

“I tried to give him CPR, I heard a few little bursts of breath and thought there was a chance he might be OK.”

But it was too late.

“The ambulance took him to Basildon Hospital, but he was already gone by the time we got there,” she added.

“We sat in there for hours going over it again and again, trying to make sense of it.”

What Sarah had no idea of was that when Matthew died she was already pregnant with her second child, Ellie, now nine.

While trying to plan Matthew’s funeral, Sarah was trying to make sense of her grief and plan for her new baby.

She said: “I think in a good way it was a bit of blessing I got pregnant so quickly, because if it hadn’t happened I’m not sure if I would have wanted any more children.

“I felt such a mix of emotions when I found out I was pregnant. I felt guilt and felt I couldn’t go on anymore.

“But now, looking back, if it hadn’t been for her, I would have just sunk.

“After I gave birth to Ellie I was given special alarms which monitored her breathing and I was always checking she was breathing. I even do it now with my second son Max, every night before I go to bed.”

Sarah, who works as the manager of the Candy Bar in High Street, Billericay, is now training to run the London Marathon with her brother, David Weightman, 32, from Chingford.

The family have already raised an amazing £33,000 for the Cot Death Society since Matthew died.

Sarah said: “It is so important we do all we can to raise awareness for the charity.

“After Matthew died, I spent so many nights calling their line up and talking about my problems.

“The charity help so many families and they carry out research into what causes cot death. That was the hardest thing for me – there is no obvious cause.

“If someone dies in a car crash then at least you know why it happened, but with cot death there is no reason.

“I have carried out talks at Basildon Hospital on the subject and feel I could perhaps even lead a group on it.”

For more information on the Cot Death Society log on to www.cotdeathsociety.org.uk and if you would like to donate to Sarah running the marathon log on to www.justgiving.com/sarah _stedeford

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