VICKY Clayton clutches her baby girl just seconds after giving birth – a treasured picture taken by her doting husband and proud new dad Bobby.
But just six days later in an unimaginable tragedy, Vicky died after collapsing in a mother and baby space in a supermarket car park.
It was her 33rd birthday and that of her one-year-old son, Bobby junior, who was also with her when she collapsed.
Her distraught husband, Bobby, 28, is facing bringing up his two youngsters without his loving wife.
Speaking from the family home in Armadale Grove, in the Rossmere area of Hartlepool, Bobby said: “I still cannot believe what has happened. I don’t want to believe what has happened. It doesn’t seem real. How will I ever tell our children what happened to their mummy.”
Leave your tributes to Vicky at the bottom of this story.
Elle-Mae was born on May 9 after a short labour weighing a healthy 8lb 7oz at around 7am.
Both mum and baby were well and were allowed home from the University Hospital of Hartlepool a few hours later.
On Tuesday, Vicky was celebrating her own birthday and that of baby Bobby and had gone on a shopping trip to Asda, in Marina Way, for a few items with her children and mum, Leanne.
Bobby had rang Vicky, who he married on HMS Trincomalee in June 2010, to check how she was getting on with their new arrival.
He added: “She was fine on the phone and she told me the little one was having his porridge and the baby was asleep.
“She was planning on going to Asda to get some clothes for the kids that afternoon.
“I said I’d see her later that night when I finished work and that was it.”
But she began to feel ill as she walked around Asda with her sister and by the time she reached the check-out she was struggling to remember and had pains in her back.
As she got into the car park, Vicky suddenly collapsed.
Frantic staff ran to help and paramedics rushed to the scene and desperately tried to help Vicky.
Asbestos supervisor Bobby said: “I got a call at work after lunchtime from her sister Leanne telling me to get home straight away because Vicky had collapsed at Asda.
“I just assumed she’d fainted or something like that, and set off home. As I was driving, I kept ringing to see how things were, and Leanne was crying saying things weren’t looking good and the paramedics were working on her.
“My dad then rang me to say go straight to North Tees as that’s where they were going in the ambulance.
“I got there first, and then they brought her in. I was allowed to go and see her, and she had all of these tubes coming out of her.
“I couldn’t believe it. The doctors told us all that they weren’t going to give up on her, and that gave us all hope.”
As Vicky’s condition deteriorated she was rushed to James Cook Hospital, in Middlesbrough, where she was put on a life support machine – but medics were unable to save her.
Bobby added: “We’d only been there 20 minutes, and she was gone. They gathered us in a room and said she’d gone.
“I was listening to what was being said, but didn’t want to hear it. At first I felt like asking ‘gone where?’ I knew what they meant, but I didn’t want them to tell me she had died.
“I think it hit Leanne first, she started to cry. I just remember my legs buckling below me, and my dad had to catch me.”
Bobby says Vicky – who worked at Sedgefield-based plant hire firm Kramer before leaving to have her first child – had no problems at all during her pregnancy, lived a healthy lifestyle and had not complained of any illness prior to her sudden death.
The day after Vicky died, Bobby had to keep a prearranged appointment to register Ellie-Mae’s birth and he added the middle name Victoria as a tribute to his wife.
And as he waits for the results of a post-mortem examination on Monday, he added: “We don’t know why this has happened. I wanted us to be together forever, and I can’t believe we won’t be.”
“The last few days have been a blur, But now I’ve got the children to look after and a funeral to arrange.
“I’ll also have the job of telling the children about what happened to their mammy as they get older.”
Breaking down in tears, grief-stricken Bobby added: “I’ll have to tell Bobby that his mammy died on his birthday. How do you tell that to a kid?”
Bobby said he would like to thank friends and family who have left tributes at the scene and Asda staff for allowing them to use the site for tributes.
Vicky’s funeral takes place at 1pm at St Oswald’s Church, in Brougham Terrace, on Friday, May 25, prior to interment at Stranton Grange cemetery.
As well as Bobby and her two children, Vicky leaves parents Elizabeth and Les, brother Christopher and sister Leanne.
Bobby says all friends are welcome to meet at the church.
Bobby, who met Vicky – a former pupil at Dyke House school whose maiden name was Cotson – eight years ago at Hartlepool Marina, described his wife as a “Church Street party animal” and has poignantly arranged for her horse-drawn funeral cortege to pass through Hartlepool’s night-life hotspot on its way to the church.