‘He was our little prince’ – family devastated as Sunderland baby dies of mystery illness

Bailey Pemberton, who died aged 8 months, with siblings, from left: Darcy, Paige and Elliott Pemberton
Bailey Pemberton, who died aged 8 months, with siblings, from left: Darcy, Paige and Elliott Pemberton
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A FAMILY has today described its devastation over the sudden and unexplained death of a “little prince” just days before Christmas.

Louise Nicholson was heartbroken when she discovered eight-month-old Bailey Pemberton had stopped breathing in his bed just before 2am on December 20.

The tot had been stricken with chest problems from being four weeks old.

Medics diagnosed the baby boy as having a viral infection, but he was unable to shake it off and was due to have an examination to determine whether he had a blockage in his airways.

When his 27-year-old mum found little Bailey, she ran across the road to her mum Pauline Nicholson’s house for help, called an ambulance and tried to resuscitate the baby.

Despite their efforts, and those of paramedics, he could not be revived.

Grandmother Pauline, 53, of Witherwack, said she is at a loss to understand the tragedy.

She said: “It is hard to believe. We are asking ourselves why and how.

“It’s a huge, huge shock. I’ve never experienced anything like it before.

“I’ve been keeping strong for everyone, but I have my moments.”

Pauline, a mum-of-four, and grandmother-of-10, added: “He was always laughing and smiling. He knew who all of his family were.

“And he’d just got his two front teeth. When he started to eat he loved his food.

“I used to see them every day. He could say mam, and ask for his nana when he cried.”

Louise has three other children Paige, 11, Elliott, six, and Darcy, four, with Bailey’s dad Michael Pemberton, 30, of Marley Pots. Still in a state of shock, the grieving mum could only say: “I used to call him my little prince.”

Bailey spent three days in hospital in the run-up to Christmas, but the family were all set to enjoy their first festive season with him at home.

His grandmother added: “It’s been horrible. We had to get through Christmas Day just for the other children.

“But I think they’ve only played with their toys a handful of times.

“We went up to the mortuary to see him on Christmas Day, and Paige came with us.”

The family took Bailey’s body home for five days prior to his funeral, which took place at Holy Trinity Church, Southwick, on Friday.

Pauline added: “We wanted to say goodbye. The night before the funeral was awful, and the funeral was horrible.

“I almost couldn’t tell you who was in the church and who wasn’t.

“Paige wrote something lovely which she read out, and had everyone crying.”

Pauline said the family are now supporting each other.

She added: “We are keeping an eye on Louise because she just keeps crying.

“It’s difficult to think that just the day before he was laughing and smiling.

“He is a huge loss.”

The family, including paternal grandparents Milly Robins and Eddie Pemberton, of Marley Pots, are now waiting to find out how Bailey died.

An inquest to try and determine the cause of his death has been opened and adjourned by the Sunderland Coroner.

Derek Winter.