THE devastation felt by a former Neyland woman who lost both her young son and husband within days has driven her to ensure other families hit by tragedy receive the support and advice they so desperately need.

Rhian Burke set up the charity 2 Wish Upon A Star following the death of son George, aged 12 months, and her husband, Paul, just five days later in February, 2012.

George, a happy and healthy baby, suddenly suffered a series of fits and despite doctors’ best efforts could not be saved.

Unable to cope with the grief, Paul fell to his death from a motorway bridge days later.

Rhian believes that if she and her husband had been given more support following George’s death, Paul would still be alive.

She set up 2 Wish Upon A Star to ensure other families do get the support, counselling and advice needed following the death of a young person.

Rhian, who now lives in Miskin, said: “The night George died, Paul and I were given very little support.

“We were sat in the hospital, holding George for a number of hours after, when we were told we had to leave.

“We were given a booklet, escorted back down to A&E and then out into the night.

“Our whole world had been turned on its head and we were just left. We had so many questions; how did this happen? Was this our fault? There was no-one to talk us through it.

“Immediate support services are crucial. When you lose a child, everything falls apart; you go through a range of emotions, anger, fear, sadness and sometimes you are just numb.

“People need to know that there is help available, that they are not alone. This is particularly important in the more rural parts of Wales, where communities may be spread further apart.”

The charity has received an incredible reaction and its services are now being spread across Wales and into Pembrokeshire.

2 Wish Upon A Star now has an agreement with the Hywel Dda University Health Board to provide immediate support pathways to anyone who loses a child or young person under the age of 25.

With parental consent, either Dyfed-Powys Police or the hospital will contact the charity in the event of an unexpected death of a child or young person under 25.

This will typically be within the first 48 hours of death.

A charity representative will work with and support the family for six to eight weeks, offering guidance and understanding.

Every family will handle the shock of unexpectedly losing a child differently, and the charity’s trained support staff are able to answer questions and work through the difficulties the family are facing.

Following the first eight-week period, formal counselling will then be offered for a further six to eight weeks.

Counsellors will help parents through what will undoubtedly be the worst time of their lives, signposting any additional services or support they feel appropriate.

Monthly support groups for all family members are also held in Haverfordwest and Carmarthen.

These support groups offer additional help as well as advice and guidance from others who have gone through similar experiences.

All hospitals in the area now have access to the charity’s memory boxes.

Staff will sit with the family and go through the items in the box. Handprints and locks of hair can be taken and placed in the box.

A small soft toy elephant will be left with the child, with another going home with the bereaved family.

Rhian, 39, added: “It’s also important that help is available for the whole family, sometimes people forget about the siblings or the grand-parents – when a child dies, it affects a whole community of people.

“On a more personal level, I was born and raised in Pembrokeshire, so to have our services support families from my hometown is incredibly important to me.

“We are also looking for volunteers in the area to help with events, fundraising and to further raise awareness about this important issue.

“Our support has already helped 50 families in Wales through the worst moment of their lives.

“We continue to support them and many now support us, fundraising and raising awareness.

“Our goal is to have no family left behind, and partnerships and agreements such as the ones we have with Hywel Dda are a crucial piece of the puzzle.”

For more information about 2 Wish Upon A Star, see or call 01443 853125.

  •  2 Wish Upon A Star is holding its first Pembrokeshire Autumn Ball at the Cleddau Bridge Hotel on Saturday November 19.

Dress code is black tie/formal. Reception drinks are at 6.30pm and carriages at 12.30am.

Tickets are £35 a ticket or a table of £10 for £300.

Contact for tickets.