Houghton Regis couple overjoyed as community raise cash to fund baby’s headstone

Gemma Pritchett and Leigh Elms at the gravesite of their stillborn son
Gemma Pritchett and Leigh Elms at the gravesite of their stillborn son
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A couple who lost their baby 11 years ago were overjoyed when big-hearted friends and family secretly raised funds for a headstone.

For Gemma Pritchett and her partner Leigh Elms, of Houghton Regis, the sudden loss of their baby son Lee in 2004 is a pain that never goes away.

Gemma, 28, said: “Every Christmas and birthday, when you’re with the other children, you’re reminded of it. It’s always with us.”

Lee Christopher Elms was stillborn in June 9, 2004. He was buried in West Street cemetery, Dunstable, with a wooden cross.

Knowing how painful it was for Gemma to visit the grave, her sister Kel Griffiths, her cousin Lauren Beard, and friend Mandy Gower came up with an idea.

They began a secret group on Facebook to help fund a headstone for the baby, with many members of the community chipping in .

After fundraising since Christmas, the group presented a stunned Gemma with the total raised of £1,500 last week, on Lee’s birthday.

Mum-of-five Gemma said: “I was just stunned, I couldn’t believe it. I looked at my sister and she was crying, and then my mum was crying...

“It was so lovely. I’m really so over the moon and I can’t express in words how much this means to me.

“The community have been so nice. It’s something about people in Houghton Regis, they really look out for each other.”

The couple hope putting in a headstone for Lee will make their loss easier to bear.

Gemma said: “I don’t go down there that often, and everybody knows that it’s difficult for me. Having this stone for Lee will make it special.

“We’ve seen one that is pretty, but we’re still very undecided.”

According to NHS statistics, there are more than 3,600 stillbirths every year in the UK, affecting one in every 200 births.

Around 11 babies are stillborn each day in the UK, making it 15 times more common than cot death.