Couple’s charity tribute to tiny Brody

Andrew Kelly and Gemma Waite at Springfield, White Roase Centre, Leeds.
Andrew Kelly and Gemma Waite at Springfield, White Roase Centre, Leeds.
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Their first son, Brody, died just 12 hours after being born. Now Gemma Waite and partner Andy Kelly are attempting to ease the pain of their devestation by fund-raising for worthy causes which are close to their hearts

It should have been the happiest day of their lives for Gemma Waite and Andy Kelly of Lightcliffe.

The one thing the couple longed for to seal their love for one another, was a baby, and they were over the moon last year when 24-year-old Gemma announced she was pregnant.

But fate dealt them a cruel hand. Instead of popping the Champagne corks when their son, Brody, was born in January this year, the couple bathed and dressed him and tearfully said their goodbyes.

Brody only survived 12 hours because of a condition called Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia where the diaphragm fails to form correctly which results in the stomach entering the chest cavity and the lungs not forming,

Eighty-per-cent of babies who have CHD die, and while Gemma and Andy had been warned at their five month scan that Brody only had between a 20-and-30-per-cent chance of survival they prayed he would be one of the lucky ones.

It wasn’t to be however, but instead of allowing the grief to overwhelm them, the couple are determined that Brody’s memory will live on and have thrown themselves into fundraising for two CHD charities.

In just two months with the help of family, friends and work colleagues they have raised over £3,500 for the Chloe Tate Foundation. Chloe died in the same hospital as Brody, Leeds General Infirmary, and Gemma and Chloe’s mum Jenna Hilton, have found solice in one another and become friends.

Gemma and Andrew, aged 38, have also had a lot of support from Cherubs UK, a national based CHD charity which has strong links with Calderdale.

As well as having a support group, the charity raises awareness and money for research and the couple and their family are now actively involved in helping organise events for Cherubs UK.

A pamper evening and fashion show has been organised this Friday, March 11, at Illingworth Moor Methodist Church, and Gemma is helping organise a ball in September at Brighouse Sports and Social Club.

“Andy and I have been to hell and back and are still numb with shock and grief, but raising money for CHD charities is helping us keep going. We want people to remember Brody,” says Gemma who met Andy two-and-a-half years ago and works alongside him at Hitachi Capital in Leeds.

He has returned to work but Gemma is still off. She says while the whole pregnancy was a nightmare and a huge worry, the hardest part was having to say goodbye and walk away and leave Brody on his own.

“He deterioted quickly after being born and we were told he was not going to make it. We had so little time with him. We had a cuddle and bathed and dressed him.”

Friends and family have been amazed at how the couple have dealt with the devestation. Andy’s aunt, Mrs Barbara Cooke of Ridge Lea, Rastrick says they are a remarkable couple and entered them into a recent “Courier” competition to win £200 worth of clothes at Spanish brand Springfield’s first UK store in the White Rose shopping centre, Leeds.

We agreed with her and treated the couple to a makeover and modelling session. They had their hair re-styled by Gemma Peers who owns Antonia & Peers in Lightcliffe and then spent the afternoon trying on outfits at Springfields.

“We both really enjoyed it. It took our minds off what we have been through for the day,” says Gemma who is now looking for raffle prizes for the September Ball.

Anyone who would like to help out, or wants more details on the pamper evening and fashion show, which starts at 7pm, can contact her on 0754 0958601.