Letchworth family says ‘final goodbye’ to baby Mason with messages carried by 100 balloons
PUBLISHED: 06:57 10 March 2020 | UPDATED: 08:47 10 March 2020
A Letchworth family has said its final goodbyes to “beautiful baby Mason” who tragically died on New Year’s Eve at just three weeks old.
Around 100 people paid tribute at Mason Roper's funeral last Tuesday, at St Paul's Church in Letchworth, following an appeal published in this paper to give him 'the best send-off possible'.
Mason was described as a 'happy, healthy, beautiful baby' when he was found unresponsive in his cot by dad Bill on December 31.
More than £2,000 was raised following the Roper family appeal, the majority of which paid for Mason's £1,800 headstone. The family have also raised around £400 for SANDS - a neonatal death charity that supports bereaved families.
On Tuesday, following Mason's burial at Wilbury Hills Cemetery, 100 coloured balloons were released by his graveside - with each one carrying a personal message for Mason from close friends and family.
'Tuesday was a real mixture of emotions,' said aunt Jade. 'It was our final goodbye, but in some ways it felt like a relief that the ordeal is over with.'
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Three months on from his death, Jade says she is still 'picking up the pieces of a broken family' left 'devastated' by Mason's death.
'We are not going to get over this. It is always going to be there,' Jade says. 'We're a strong family and we're lucky that we have each other.
'Mason is never going to be forgotten, but you just have to take it day by day, and hope that it will get that bit easier.'
The family only received the post-mortem results last week, which confirmed that Mason suffered sudden infant death syndrome - known as 'cot death'.
In the UK, more than 200 babies die suddenly and unexpectedly every year as a result of SIDS.
Jade, who also cares full-time for Mason's mum Molly, admits she has been left disappointed by the help her family received - and talks of feeling 'very alone' in the weeks after Mason's death. 'The lack of support in place is a disgrace,' Jade says. 'When it comes to the professionals who are meant to be there: support workers, liason officers, hospital staff - there's just nothing. You get left on your own.'
In Mason's memory, Jade plans to set up a local charity giving young families in Hertfordshire the support they need through the process of grief and recovery.
'When a child passes away, you need a lot of support, and so does your family,' Jade says. 'I don't think anyone knows how to deal with losing a child. It's not something you would wish on your worst enemy.'