Dorchester couple’s tragic loss becomes story of inspiration and hope

A HEARTBREAKING story of loss has turned to one of inspiration and hope for one Dorchester family.

Katie and Graham Smith’s baby, Daisy, was born at Dorset County Hospital in January 2021.

It soon became clear that all was not well, and Daisy quickly experienced a range of problems with her feeding and development. She was also diagnosed with both hearing and eyesight loss.

After numerous admissions to Kingfisher Ward, various scans and genetic tests led to a diagnosis of an unnamed genetic condition, so rare that it was unknown to the medical teams treating her in Dorchester and at Southampton Children’s Hospital.

With no clear prognosis, Daisy gradually declined over the course of her short life and was frequently readmitted to Kingfisher Ward.

In October 2021, Daisy had a seizure which could not be controlled. She was put onto a ventilator and transferred to the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford.

Sadly, when the ventilator was removed, Daisy was unable to breathe independently and she was brought home to Dorchester where she died the next day in Gully’s Place on Kingfisher Ward, surrounded by her family.

“When we received Daisy’s diagnosis in June 2021, we took the decision to make every moment count,” said mum, Katie.

“We began fundraising in September 2021, aiming to cover the distance between our home in Dorset and some of Daisy’s grandparents in Newcastle – and the return journey.

“The plan was for Daisy to travel all 764 miles with us, by foot or by bike. Sadly, Daisy passed away during the challenge, but we decided to complete the miles in her memory.”

Clare Hollingsworth, Zac, Katie with baby Toby, artist Lorna and Graham with the picture Graham and Katie commissioned for Kingfisher Ward

Clare Hollingsworth, Zac, Katie with baby Toby, artist Lorna and Graham with the picture Graham and Katie commissioned for Kingfisher Ward

Other fundraisers joined in – their friend’s five-year-old daughter Saffie walked five miles raising money along the way and a friend, Carole, raised more than £500 when she swam the English Channel in the pool at 1610 in Dorchester.

In total, around £5,500 was raised, which Katie and Graham donated to Dorset County Hospital.

Katie added: “When deciding what we wanted this money to be spent on, we also chose to contact artist Lorna Gibson about a commission for the Kingfisher Ward.

“We had come across Lorna when Daisy was alive and Graham read her beautiful book, Love Never Dies, at Daisy’s funeral.

“It was therefore a really easy decision to ask Lorna to create Bedtime Stories, which we hope will provide huge comfort to children and families during their time on the Kingfisher Ward.”

Lorna said: “It was such an honour to be asked to do this illustration in memory of Daisy.

“It was so wonderful to make the trip to Dorset and meet Daisy’s family and the staff who cared for her on Kingfisher Ward. Although the day was underpinned with such sadness, the whole ward was filled with love and it was so special to be a part of that day in person.

“I really hope that Daisy’s Bedtime Stories illustration will bring some comfort and magic to those who might need it.”

As Daisy’s family move towards the second anniversary of her death on November 30, their fundraising continues.

On November 25 and 26, Graham and Katie will be participating in the Hyrox event at the London Excel.

Graham is taking on the challenge with a running friend from Dorchester RIOT Running Club and Katie will be competing with an amazing friend, Clare Hollingsworth, who was also Daisy’s paediatric consultant at DCH.

They have already raised almost £1,000, which, along with much of their previous donation, will be spent on play equipment for Kingfisher Ward and for the Children’s Centre at DCH, where Daisy received valuable physiotherapy and occupational therapy.

“Everyone on the Kingfisher Ward and at the Children’s Centre at Dorset County Hospital who came into contact with Daisy and her family would like to express their gratitude for their kindness and generosity which will provide much needed play equipment and facilities for other children treated there,” a spokesperson said.

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