A NURSE from Taunton says she is “speechless” thanks to the goodwill of colleagues and strangers to help raise funds for a headstone for her baby boy who died prematurely.

Michelle Cook, 29, lost Thomas, the name her daughter, Natasha, gave him, after going into labour prematurely in November, 2013.

Michelle said: “I woke up in the morning of November 14 with stomach ache and it wouldn’t go, so I went in to hospital.

“They examined me and thought I had appendicitis, but moved me to the labour ward as a precaution and explained what would happen if I went into labour.

“I was 22 weeks pregnant with a baby boy. A few hours later I delivered my baby. He was so beautiful and perfect.

“He lived for just over two hours. I watched him lie there knowing he was going to die.

“I tried to be strong for Natasha no matter how much it hurt. The doctor said I had an infection in my womb and I was very poorly.

“My body had rejected Thomas because I was no longer able to fight the infection no-one had picked up on.”

Michelle turned to colleagues at the Manor Care Home in Bishop’s Hull, where she got a job after training as a nurse at Bridgwater College and then the University of the West of England.

She was inspired to train by Natasha, who she had at 19 and who she describes as her “angel”.

Natasha has had to live without some of her limbs after she was diagnosed with meningitis and then meningococcal septicaemia, spending four days on life support and then six months undergoing operations at Frenchay Hospital in Bristol.

Michelle says: “My daughter couldn’t accept what had happened because she’d got ill and then Thomas, but there was nothing wrong with Thomas.

“My manager, Ami Livesley, came to visit me later that afternoon to see if I was OK and because I wanted her support.

“Ami had informed everyone at work of my loss. They all sent kind messages and left me voicemails.”

After spending five days in hospital Michelle registered her son’s death and had a funeral, but then had to be re-admitted to hospital for treatment for ‘retained products’.

She said: “The Manor contacted me every day, and sent me cards and flowers. Ami would visit me and keep everyone informed.

“I had seven weeks off work, which put me in financial difficulties.

“I’m a very proud woman and don’t like to ask for help, and I never really knew how much people cared.

“I’d explained to a few that I couldn’t afford a proper headstone for Thomas and that the masons wanted half the deposit up front.”

With the headstone taking 12 weeks to make, Michelle’s colleagues, Shaunna Stride and Carla Lambert, took it upon themselves to get fundraising underway with a committee and quiz night.

The Coal Orchard in Taunton is on board, hosting a ‘Villains and Heroes’ day on Saturday (April 26).

Michelle said: “I’m just speechless. The whole team in the Manor of over 100 staff wanted to help me.

“I’ve never been so touched and emotional.

“I’m forever grateful and have never known such caring, heartfelt people. I’m honoured to work with these professionals and for them all to care.

“I want to thank everyone from the bottom of my heart, especially the most empathetic, amazing manager anyone could ask for, and I’m looking forward to laying my little Thomas to rest.”