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Friends fundraise for headstone for baby who died 23 years ago

Three women have launched an appeal to buy a headstone for their friend's baby, who died more than 20 years ago.

In 1997 and at her 20 week scan, Sam Rea, from Sellindge, near Folkestone, discovered her baby had anencephaly, a condition which means the bones of the skull do not develop properly.

Baby Rhys' footprints
Baby Rhys' footprints

The first-time mum knew her baby would not survive and she was induced the next day.

After 20 hours of labour, baby Rhys was born asleep on March 19, 1997.

Mrs Rea, 47, said: "I heard them say the word anencephaly at my scan and I already knew what that was.

"I went into total panic. I screamed and screamed because I knew there was no way for him to survive."

Following his funeral, Rhys was laid to rest in Bybrook Cemetary in Kennington, Ashford, where Mrs Rea was living at the time.

Sam Rea lost baby Rhys 23 years ago
Sam Rea lost baby Rhys 23 years ago

A friend made a cross to mark his resting place, but that has now gone and Rhys lies in an unmarked grave.

Mrs Rea, also mum to Tadi, 16, said: "I was so grateful for that cross but it only lasted a year or so."

And so now Mrs Rea's friends - Karen Sinclair, Samantha Grant and Samantha Brind - came up with the idea to start a crowd funder for a headstone.

The online appeal reads: "Twenty-two years ago our kind, caring friend Sam Rea went through the pains of labour, knowing her first contraction was going to be fatal for the little baby boy she was carrying.

"Sam found out the devastating news at her 20 week scan and so then had to go through labour to deliver Rhys knowing he would be born sleeping.

The fundraising page has reached £165
The fundraising page has reached £165

"We cannot imagine how awful that must of been for Sam, as mothers it’s what we have nightmares about.

"Baby Rhys did have a wooden cross but this perished long ago leaving him in an unmarked grave.

"By that stage Sam had her son Tadi and had to face many other struggles like loosing Tadi's dad to cancer and struggling to keep a roof over his head."

Ms Sinclair added: "Sam is such a selfless person who will always make us smile, so we want to help by raising money and take that heartache from her."

The trio of friends are also planning other events throughout the year such as bootfairs to raise money until they have enough funds for the memorial.

They have so far raised £165 of the £1,000 goal.

Mrs Rae, a care worker, added: "The appeal smacked me around the head like a brick if I'm honest. I had come to some kinds of peace that he would never have a headstone.

"I'm very humbled by it; it's very sweet."

To donate, click here.

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