‘It’s heartbreaking that Daryl never got to see our little girl’

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Louise Burke says the staff at Craigavon Area Hospital treated her “like Royalty” as she prepared to give birth to daughter Ella Louise Daryl.

She is speaking as she cradles her baby – the daughter that Louise and husband Daryl longed for, but whom her dad will never see.

Portadown Piker Daryl (30) died following the boating accident on Lough Ree, County Westmeath, on March 20.

Louise and Daryl knew on Christmas Eve that a daughter was on the way and agreed to keep it a secret. But before Christmas Day dawned, an excited Daryl had told the entire family.

Ella was born in Craigavon Area Hospital on Saturday, May 3. Louise held a picture of Daryl on her chest throughout labour.

He had been with her for the birth of each of the three boys – William (7), Calum (4) and Brooklyn (2) - and was especially looking forward to seeing his first daughter enter the world. Louise’s sister-in-law Lynda was with her in the Craigavon midwifery-led unit as Ella (7lbs 4.5ozs) made her debut.

The midwife (Pauline) who delivered the three boys was at Ella’s birth, and Louise said, “The staff treated me like Royalty from the moment I entered the unit until I went home to my mum and dad (Mary and Jackie) for Sunday lunch.

“I had a private room, the very best in care, I was treated with such respect and compassion – they couldn’t have done more for me. I’ll never forget them. They knew the circumstances and did all in their power to help me.”

Louise also spoke in glowing terms of her extended family, especially Mary and Jackie who have cared for her assiduously throughout her trauma, and have been with her daily since Ella was born.

“They’re such wonderful parents and have shown it yet again,” said Louise. “I pride myself in being a good parent, and that’s obviously where I get it from. The boys, too, just adore their contented wee sister – they call her ‘Wee Angel’ and are never done hugging her.”

She said, “The days ahead will be so difficult. I miss Daryl terribly, everyone does, especially the boys. They say he has gone to heaven. But they keep my spirits up with their usual play and noise.

“I’ve been left with a challenging job of bring up a family of four. But mum and dad, and the rest of the family, have been such an inspiration and they’ll help us through.

“Later in the summer we’ll be taking the boys down to Lough Ree to lay wreaths on the water. Daryl was such a devoted family man and I want all four of our children to keep that in their hearts as we face life without him.”