The blanket that is helping grieving North East parents spend longer with their deceased children

Photographed with the donated cuddle blanket are (left to right) Julie Reay, Alison Guadagni consultant Paediatrician (great north Children's hospital) , Kirsty McGurrell (4Louis) and Helga Charters matron children services (great north Children's hospital). Photograph by FRANK REID
Photographed with the donated cuddle blanket are (left to right) Julie Reay, Alison Guadagni consultant Paediatrician (great north Children's hospital) , Kirsty McGurrell (4Louis) and Helga Charters matron children services (great north Children's hospital). Photograph by FRANK REID
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A charity is helping bereaved parents spend precious moments with their children after donating a unique piece of equipment.

4Louis, which was founded by a Houghton family, has presented a Cuddle Blanket to the Great North Children’s Hospital at Newcastle’s RVI, which is believed to be one of the first of its kind in the area.

Julie Reay with the name plaque that was placed on the donated Cuddle Blanket. Photograph by FRANK REID

Julie Reay with the name plaque that was placed on the donated Cuddle Blanket. Photograph by FRANK REID

The charity, which supports parents suffering the loss of a child, was able to buy the £5,000 specialist blanket after a generous donation from charity champion Julie Reay.

The cooling blanket is a lightweight, portable machine which cools and circulates cold fluid to a pad. This pad is placed directly onto the person after death and an insulated cover placed over the top to keep the body cool and allows people to spend more time with their loved ones.

Barnes mum Julie knows all too well the trauma of losing a child after her son Peter died in a rope swing accident in 2002 when he was just 13.

Since then she has channelled her grief by raising more than £150,000 for good causes through the Peter David Lane Trust Fund.

The name plaque that was placed on the donated Cuddle Blanket. Photograph by FRANK REID

The name plaque that was placed on the donated Cuddle Blanket. Photograph by FRANK REID

Julie said: “When having that time with a deceased child it’s very important that the body be well looked after. This cooling blanket allows them to preserve the body of a child or young person, enabling them to stay either at home or in the hospital for several days and nights until their funeral.

“It will help a lot of families and allow them to try to come to terms with what has happened in the company of their own family and or nurses and carers, rather than a child’s body being whisked away to an undertaker. It’s something I would have used, if I’d had the chance, when our Peter died.

“It’s going to make an enormous difference in the grieving process and helps families to heal.”

The annual Boxing Day dip in Seaburn is just one of the ways in which Julie raises money for the fund which has helped scores of charities on Wearside.

Julie added: “This £5,000 donation to 4Louis was mainly raised from the efforts of my wonderful team of dippers and, of course, sponsors from last year’s Boxing Day Dip. I’d like to thank everyone for making this possible, I know it’s important to them to know where their sponsor money has gone and I hope they all feel as proud as me for making this possible.”

Peter’s fund has already sponsored cuddle cots which have gone to hospitals around the country, which are used for babies and small children, but this is the first time it’s funded equipment for older children.

4Louis founder Kirsty McGurrell said: “There’s not many of these blankets in the region at all and it’s our first at 4Louis. It’s an absolutely fantastic product and it means a lot that Julie has been able to help us in this way.

“It’s not a piece of equipment that the NHS pays for, but hopefully now we’ve delivered this blanket more hospitals will accept one in the future.”