Wigan funeral home helps employee donate 'cuddle cot' in tragic tot Olivia's memory

Olivia Mae Conway
Olivia Mae Conway

A Wigan funeral home has pulled out the stops to help an employee whose two-year-old daughter died suddenly in her quest to buy a “cuddle cot” for other grieving parents.

The Ashton branch of Coop Funerals, held a coffee morning to support one of their staff members - Charlene Harrison, who lost her daughter Olivia two years ago to sepsis.

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Charlene, a funeral arranger, wanted to provide the company with a “cuddle cot” to help preserve the bodies of young children, giving parents who have lost their babies more time with them before the burial.

“I’m fund-raising in memory of my little girl,” said the 37-year-old. “Olivia didn’t use a cuddle cot because she was a bit bigger - but we had 15 days with her after she died.

“Families with younger children just don’t get that long. I wanted to do something to give them more time with their children and make memories.”

Cuddle cots are a cooling mattress which can be placed in a cot or a pram to stop a baby’s body from deteriorating.

Charlene, who quit her job as a PCSO following Olivia’s death, has almost reached the £1,600 she needs to donate a cuddle cot to Coop Funerals.

“This way I can help other families and it’s all in Olivia’s memory,” she said. “There aren’t many cuddle cots out there so we decided as a family to speak to the organisers and raise money for one.”

Olivia Mae Conway was only one-year-old when she received a bone marrow transplant after being diagnosed with severe anaemia.

“It was all fine,” said Charlene. “Then she had a couple of problems with her bowel, which is quite common for transplant patients.

“She took ill one night, she was due to be coming home. She died from sepsis.”

Following her death, Charlene who had been with Merseyside Police for 12 years, decided to pursue a career in the funeral industry so that she could try to help other families through her own personal experience.

“I didn’t want to go back to my job after that,” she added. “I started at the Coop in September.

“After Olivia died it was something I wanted to do.

“I wanted to be able to help people who are grieving, it’s a feeling I go through every day.

“I thought I can understand how they are feeling and offer them support however I can.”