A little girl died in the arms
of her father after a brave battle against a rare genetic condition.
Three-year-old Hope Byatt died on Saturday at her home in Caldeonian Road, Stamford.
She suffered from Tay-Sachs, a rare condition which causes progressive damage to the nervous system.
Her father Jon and his wife Laura Goodliffe-Byatt lit the fire in their living room and laid her on the sofa where they sat with her through the night, before the funeral director arrived the next morning.
Jon said: “Hope was an angel, she made a difference to a lot of lives. It has been tough and painful but also happy times.”
Hope’s mother Alex died of a brain tumour at the age of 34. She was pregnant with Hope when she was diagnosed and died a year and a half later.
Jon said: “We named her Hope because her mum was sick. It was our only hope at that time and I feel it’s so cruel that now she too has been taken away. But I take comfort from knowing she has gone to her mum.”
The couple described Hope as a beautiful young girl, who brought “happiness and fun” into her family’s lives.
Hope was diagnosed with
Tay-Sachs on July 1 last year on Jon and Laura’s wedding day.
When neighbours living near the family heard of her ordeal, they rallied round the family.
The couple said their “overwhelming acts of kindness” included helping with the car, organising a visit from Santa and providing food.
Last month Jon, Laura and Hope, along with their other children Ethan Byatt, six, and Nieve and Kobi Goodliffe, aged eight and four, went on a holiday to Center Parcs arranged by the Make a Wish charity.
Laura, 39, said: “She was quite poorly then and on Christmas Day we nearly lost her. From then on she began to get worse and worse. It’s almost like she waited for Christmas and New Year to end.”
By the evening of Saturday, January 4, her breathing began to get progressively worse.
Laura said: “She began to gasp for breath. We knew things were getting worse.”
The couple sent the children to bed knowing Hope might be fading away. Jon held her in his arms with Laura beside him.
Jon said: “Just before she died she gave out two sighs and I heard her voice in those sighs which I had not heard for a very long time.
“She was so strong. She was really fighting. But it was her time to go. I’m just glad her mum did not know. Having Hope gave her a lot of happiness.”
Laura said she had been a mum to Hope for 18 months.
She said: “She was a very special girl. I could not replace her mum, but I feel very honoured to have been the next best thing.”
Hope’s funeral will be held on Thursday next week at 10.30am at Peterborough Crematorium.