Fashion shop set to help bereaved

Cate Thompson pictured with daughter Imogen in her Park Road Cate Thompson with daughter Imogen in her shop
Cate Thompson pictured with daughter Imogen in her Park Road Cate Thompson with daughter Imogen in her shop

A MUM who lost her baby to cot death at just three days old is using profits from her new shop to repay a service that helped her in her hour of need.

Cate Thompson, secretary of Hartlepool Baby Bereavement Support Group, has opened a clothes shop called Thick and Thin in the same Park Road-based premises of the service.

She will give 10 per cent of profits back to the organisation, which helped her when her son Jac passed away when he was just three days old in July 2000.

Jac died the same day he and his parents were allowed home from Hartlepool General Hospital.

Cate was cradling him to sleep in her arms around 8.30pm when she noticed his top lip turn blue.

She immediately rang for an ambulance and Cate, Jac and her now ex-husband were rushed to the hospital. “I remember at the time thinking he would be alright and he would be in special care,” she said. “But then half-way along in the ambulance, the paramedic who was working on him told the driver to put his foot down.”

At the hospital, a team of 12 medics battled for 45 minutes to save Jac.

But sadly he didn’t pull through.

A post-mortem the next day revealed Jac had died from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

Cate, from Winterbottom Avenue, Hartlepool, said she struggled to come to terms with what had happened for many months after Jac’s tragic death.

After Jac’s death, she was put in touch with Val Lake MBE, founder of Hartlepool Baby Bereavement Support Group, who helped her through the grieving process.

Cate said: “She seemed to know all the right things to say.

“I didn’t cope at all, I didn’t want to be here.”

But with the help of the service, Cate slowly began to rebuild her life.

She went on to have a daughter, Imogen Thompson, now eight, and has a partner called Carl French, 31, who is in the Royal Navy.

She has been secretary of the bereavement group for nine years.

After studying for a degree in medico-legal death investigation and finding no jobs, she came up with a way of combining her befriending work through the group and running a business.

She has opened the shop, which was launched by Hartlepool Mayor Stuart Drummond and sells fashion brands from sizes 6-32 for women and up to XXXXXXXXL for men, after experiencing her own weight fluctuating through various diets.

Cate said: “There was nowhere I could get bigger clothes, and I realised there was a gap in the market. “I’m trying to add more designerwear as well. “I’m paying the support group back for all the help I received, from losing a child to deciding to have another child, which is one of the hardest things for bereaved parents.”

Mayor Drummond said: “I’m delighted to support this venture.

“I think it brings a bit more profile to a really important service that is being provided.

“It is also very creative the way the shop is set up to support the charity in different ways, and I wish them success.”

More information about the group, which helps people in Hartlepool, east Durham and Teesside, is available at