Grieving mum’s plea over sudden deaths

Kelly Hennessey holding a picture of her son Paul and his favourite teddy, pictured with her sister Beth Marshall and mum Tracey Marshall.
Kelly Hennessey holding a picture of her son Paul and his favourite teddy, pictured with her sister Beth Marshall and mum Tracey Marshall.
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WHEN Kelly Hennessy’s three-year-old son Paul was put to bed one night in January, all seemed fine and normal.

But tragedy struck when just four hours later Paul was found dead without explanation.

Neither a full post-mortem or an inquest could discern a cause of death, leaving a devastated Kelly wondering “why?”

Now, the 22-year-old, of North Avenue, Layton, has set up her own charity to help raise awareness of Sudden Unexplained Deaths in Children (SUDC).

She said: “They couldn’t find any reason at all as to why he’d died.”

“It’s the one thing we wanted answering and they couldn’t answer it.

“So we thought if no one else is going to try and make a change about this, we should.”

Last month Kelly founded You, Me, Together, Forever with her mum Tracy Marshall, 41, with the aim of helping families affected by similar cases to Paul’s.

It is estimated around 500 children die without explanation in the UK every year, but Kelly is shocked at how little the phenomenon is reported.

She said: “It disturbs me more than anything that I’ve had to be put in this situation to find out how many children it happens to.

“There’s so many it’s unreal, but I wouldn’t have known that if it hadn’t happened to Paul.”

The only research presently being undertaken into SUDC in the world is at the Boston Children’s Hospital, in the USA.

Kelly’s charity is the first of her kind in the UK and hopes to raise funds for research into genetic testing, which could help determine the cause of death in a number of infants.

She has already set up two online petitions to pressure the UK government into taking SUDC more seriously.

She said: “It does frustrate me that there are so many families without answers and hundreds of children dying for no reason.

“They’ve been swept under the carpet, but they really matter.

“Every family deserves to know why and we just want to constantly fight for families and make a difference so that they get those answers.”

A fund raising concert in tribute to Paul, who used to enjoy listening to music with Kelly’s 16 year old sister Bethany, is currently in the pipeline.

She said: “Paul’s favourite thing was to listen to rock music with her.

“It’s to celebrate the fact Paul loved to sit and listen with the big kids.

“We’ve got a few bands line up but we’re just looking for a venue.”

If you can help Kelly with a venue for her concert or would like more information about You, Me, Together, Forever call 07928859353 or visit www.ymtf.org.uk.

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