PARENTS Tom and Joanne Harris-Beck have been through the worst of times.

Their son, Oakley, died in Joanne’s arms just hours after being born.

From that heartbreaking tragedy, the couple set up a charity in his name which has now marked its first successful year.

Joanne, 23, had not experienced any complications in the lead-up to Oakley’s birth.

But when he was delivered by emergency Caesarian at Colchester Hospital, it was discovered Oakley had inhaled meconium while in the womb.

He was transported to the neonatal intensive care unit where he had to be resuscitated for 16 minutes.

Two hours slowly passed before Joanne and Tom, 26, could see their first baby, and when they did, he was hooked up to a tangle of wires and machines.

Staff discussed the possibility of transferring Oakley to a specialist facility at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridgeshire but sadly, his condition rapidly started to deteriorate and he was deemed too unstable to make the trip.

Doctors predicted a potentially fatal cardiac arrest was imminent.

As a result, Joanne’s first experience of holding her newborn son was also her last, as she cradled her dying baby until his final moments.

Joanne said: “The doctors began detaching the machines as I held him. Our final moments with him were the hardest.

“It was three days after and we had been able to take photos of him, as well as hand and footprints and casts, thanks to baby loss charities.

“We felt really guilty we had to leave him all alone and worried that somehow he knew we were leaving him.

“We had our last cuddle and placed him back in the cuddle cot and walked out with just a memory box.”

Following their devastating loss, Joanne and Tom have spent the past year working in memory of their son.

Their charity Oakley’s Gift aims to help parents experiencing a similar heartbreak.

In Colchester Hospital’s Rosemary suite, the charity has funded a rolling Netflix subscription which provides patients with a degree of escapism following their loss.

Joanne and Tom, who are from Clacton, also came up with the idea to donate special certificates to grieving parents which act as a thoughtful acknowledgement of their child’s existence.

Some of the other mood-changing gifts they have donated include hampers and Clacton Hospital has also benefited from the brave parents’ generosity over the past 12 months having received a Himalayan rock lamp, soothing oils and toys.

To generate the money needed to fund the gifts, Joanne and Tom have worked tirelessly to organise or take part in fundraising events.

Among the fundraisers were a non-uniform day at Clacton County High School while Lolly Dolly Tanning Bar held a Halloween face painting day.

Joanne said: “Our first year has been incredible and we have been able to help so many people who have also lost a baby.

“It is nice to know Oakley is making a difference despite not being here with us.”

Having overcome such as monumental experience, Joanne and Tom’s dedication to honour Oakley’s name is as inspiring as it is motivating.

Joanne accepts having to cope with such a devastating loss has been far from easy, nor has it been without its incredibly sombre moments.

But witnessing first-hand the positive and moving results of their valiant efforts has made everything they have done, and continue to strive to do, more than worthwhile.

“When we receive messages from ladies in the Rosemary Suite thanking us, it makes all the stress of event planning worth it,” says Joanne.

“Each time we donate to the hospital, we feel that we are doing Oakley proud and keeping his memory alive.

Oakley’s Gift will now host a charity darts tournament on March 20 at The Railway Club in Clacton.

Tom will also tackle a sponsored skydive.

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