When Claire Whiteley lost her baby daughter at two months old, she spiralled into depression and couldn’t bear to go into children’s clothing shops or hold babies.
The devastating news that little Gabrielle had a heart problem came just months after Claire’s husband Colin had died from a heart condition, before he even got to meet his daughter.
“I’ve realised over the years though that other people are in the same position as me, and you have your whole life in front of you, so you can’t give up.”Claire Delaney
Claire, a former pupil of Parklands High School in Chorley, was left to raise their eldest child, Cameron, alone.
Seven years on, Claire has learnt to use her experiences to help others, and has even opened her own clothing store for children.
The 35-year-old said: “When I lost Gabrielle so soon after Colin died, I was quite ill for quite some time, and I just wanted to give up.
“I’ve realised over the years though that other people are in the same position as me, and you have your whole life in front of you, so you can’t give up.”
Claire met Tom Delaney in 2011, and the couple went on to get married and have a daughter together, two-year-old Ava.
Claire, who is originally from Adlington, has recently opened a children’s clothing shop, poignantly named ‘A Step at a Time’ in her current hometown of Horwich.
And she wants to use her new business to help other mums, and the Chorley charity which supported her so much during her darkest days.
At two weeks old, Gabrielle was moved from Alder Hey Children’s Hospital to Derian House Children’s Hospice, where Claire was able to spend some precious quality time with her beloved daughter.
“I’m still close with the staff at Derian,” she said. “They’re like our extended family, and I want to do fund-raising events and modelling shows to raise money for the hospice.”