WHEN Shellie O’Connell lost her third child, Lachlan, in 2002, when he was just three weeks old, her motivation to get out of bed was her two young daughters.
Lachlan was born two months early and eventually succumbed to non-immune hydrops, or a build-up of fluid.
It took months before Mrs O’Connell realised that SIDS and Kids was an organisation that also assisted families who had lost children from non-SIDS causes, including miscarriage, stillbirth, in palliative care, accidents and drownings. When she visited its Hunter chapter’s office in Stewart Avenue, Hamilton, it was life-changing.
‘‘I didn’t feel so alone, I was talking to other families who had been through similar things, because at the time you are in a bubble, floating along, the world is still happening and you just want everything to stop.’’ Mrs O’Connell soon began volunteering at the drop-in centre, and when she learnt she was pregnant, once again found solace there.
Mrs O’Connell, whose fourth child, Cameron, will turn nine next week, works as a peer support representative at the centre. She was on hand yesterday with co-worker and SIDS and Kids Hunter Region general manager Kate Middleton when the centre received a $25,000 cheque from Beyond Bank (formerly Companion Credit Union).
Beyond chief executive Robert Keogh said the customer-owned bank had donated $8million to charities, not-for-profit organisations and community groups since 2007.
Mrs Middleton, a mother-of-three whose first child, Hamish, died of whooping cough, said the funds would enable the centre to employ a fund-raising person, allowing staff to focus on education campaigns.
SUPPORT: Shellie O’Connell found solace at SIDS and Kids in Hamilton. Picture: Jonathan Carroll