NORTH East comedians have backed a campaign to raise awareness of blind cord safety after the tragic death of a toddler.
Stars of TV sitcom Hebburn, Jason Cook and Chris Ramsey, offered their help after hearing about two-year-old Sophie Allen.
Sophie suffered catastrophic brain damage after she was found hanging from the blind cord in the bedroom of her Sunderland home.
Devastated parents Peter Allen and Danielle Hudson are campaigning to raise awareness of blind cord safety – with the help of the Echo.
New safety regulations governing the manufacture of blind cords came into force earlier this year, but an inquest into Sophie’s death heard there are still millions of potentially deadly blinds in family homes across the country.
Comedian Jason, who has a young daughter, said: “My daughter is three and we’ve made sure all the blind cords in our house are safe. It’s something people need to be aware of.”
Friend Chris added: “It’s an absolutely terrible loss, one that must be so hard to take and impossible to ever get over, but in campaigning for these kinds of blinds to be banned, you may be saving countless other families from having to go through such a terrible ordeal, so you can at least take some comfort in that.
“There is no way that the blinds need to be designed that way. None of the blinds in my house have that looped cord on them, so why should any of them?
“It must be so hard being a parent, and impossible to keep an eye on children every single second of the day, so removing something that is clearly so dangerous to them from a house seems like it should be a massive priority.”
The pair took to the stage at Heppie’s Social Club in North Hylton Road, Sunderland, recently raising more than £5,000 for Crawford House, a charity-run home for families of seriously-ill children who are being cared for at Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary.
Sophie was transferred to a specialist children’s unit at the hospital, after being rushed there from the family home in Red House.
But despite efforts of medics, scans showed there was no activity in the toddler’s brain and her life support machine was switched off in the early hours of April 26.
Her distraught parents were able to stay at Crawford House, which is funded by the Sick Children’s Trust.
Jason, who is hosting Metro Radio’s Nightowls show with fellow comic Steffen Peddie, as cover Alan Robson for two weeks, said: “It wasn’t a maudlin event. It was about raising awareness and having fun. I did the gig and went up to do Nightowls, where I’ve been promoting the campaign and will be until we finish on Monday.
“But if the family came up with another event, I am happy to help - I’m happy to help with anything like this.”
Sophie’s dad Peter, 38, thanked the family’s supporters and praised the work of the Trust.
He said: “When something like this happens, you are all over the place. You don’t even think where you are going to stay.
“It is also expensive to stay in the hospital. With food and stuff we were spending about £20 or £30 a day.”
The dad also thanked pals who took part in sponsored stunts on the night – friends Paul McKewan, Adam Hudson and Peter Finn were waxed on-stage by Flawless Mobile Beauty and pals Tony Richardson and James Craggs had their head shaved by Southwick Barbers Shop.
Made for the Cage and SAFC donated raffle prizes and Barclays will match £1,000 of funding.
Donations can be made at https://www.justgiving.com/Sophie-Allen-little-cheeky-face/.