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Emotional return to Cliffs site where our newborn died

An American couple whose newborn baby died at the Cliffs of Moher returned this week with a generous gift.

The couple's son Nicholas was born prematurely at the cliffs and survived for just one hour. But his memory lives on through his parents' support for first-aid at the cliff top visitors' centre.

Kelly Stokes and his wife Delia Garcia Stokes revisited the cliffs this week to hand over a cheque which fulfilled their pledge of €65,000 for a first-aid facility at the centre.

A room, equipped to the level of a cardiac ambulance, was named the 'Nicholas Room' in the little boy's memory. "For us this is an important part of our healing process -- a process that will never be over," said Kelly.

Kelly and Delia were visiting the cliffs in July 2006 when Delia suddenly went into labour. She was 25 weeks pregnant and told staff in the gift shop about the emergency.



COMPASSIONATE

Three women working in the gift shop, including a woman with nursing training, took her into a private room and cared for her as she gave birth to Nicholas. When paramedics arrived, they rushed Delia and her son to an ambulance but Nicholas died on the journey to hospital.

The couple live in Phoenix, Arizona, where they are both senior executives at the Walmart retail giant. They held several fund-raising events in Phoenix to fund first-aid services at the cliffs centre and plan to continue their support.

When the couple returned four months after the tragedy, Kelly praised the female staff who helped her.

She said: "They were very compassionate, very comforting, told us everything was going to be okay, don't panic and that was the biggest blessing of all."

Delia said then: "We're just overwhelmed by the decision to name the room after Nicholas."

Even if there had been a dedicated first aid room in 2006, she did not think there would have been a better outcome. She said: "I was 25 weeks pregnant and even if I was in a hospital, I don't think it would have turned out any differently.

"Our son is Irish. Nicholas lived for a short time, but I think he is having a greater impact than some people have in an entire lifetime. That is very powerful for us to be part of that. We feel very blessed by it.''

Delia said that the medical services in the US were much more "clinical" compared to the medical services in Ireland with whom they came into contact.

She said: "Here in Ireland, they were encouraging us to establish that bond with Nicholas, acknowledging that even though Nicholas lived for only a short time, he is very much a real person, he is very much part of our lives and we see his work in all of this."

Katherine Webster, director of the visitors' centre, told the Herald this week she welcomed the couple's final €25,000 cheque. She said 24 staff now had first-aid training and more than 500 people have received first aid for everything from dog bites to heart attacks since 2007.

Mayor of Clare Cllr Christy Curtin told the couple: "Your story is an inspiration to all of us and your son's memory is honoured by all of us here in Clare."

aokeeffe@herald.ie