Appeal tribute to our brave baby Duke

Mark Barton and Rebecca Smith, of Church Road in Leyland, have set up a Forever Fund raising money for Meningitis Now after they lost their son Duke to the disease earlier this year.'Mark and Rebecca with their daughter Amelia (3).  PIC BY ROB LOCK'26-7-2015
Mark Barton and Rebecca Smith, of Church Road in Leyland, have set up a Forever Fund raising money for Meningitis Now after they lost their son Duke to the disease earlier this year.'Mark and Rebecca with their daughter Amelia (3). PIC BY ROB LOCK'26-7-2015

The parents of a baby who died 16 hours after being struck down with meningitis have set up a charity fund in his memory.

The Duke Barton Forever Fund aims to raise £5,000 for charity Meningitis Now, and as well as raising vital money and awareness of the disease, there is a very personal reason behind the charity goal.

Once the target has been reached, Duke’s name will be inscribed on a plaque and placed in the charity’s memorial garden.

“That’s what I really want, it keeps me going”, said Dukes mum, 22-year-old Rebecca Smith.

She added: “We’d love to have that permanent reminder of him, and to know that we’ve helped the charity at the same time.”

Rebecca, who lives in Church Road with parter Mark Barton, 23, and their three-year-old daughter Amelia, has organised a series of fund-raising events, including a cake sale on Preston Market. The family has also been overwhelmed by the generosity of people and businesses in donating raffle prizes.

To further boost funds, Duke’s family and friends will be taking part in a sponsored walk from Blackpool to Leyland on August 22 and there will be a family fun day at the Priory Club in Broadfield Walk, Leyland, on September 19. So far the total raised stands at more than £1,100.

Since Duke’s death on March 1, 2015 aged five-and-a-half months, Rebecca said she has been pleased to raise awareness of meningitis.

She said: “I’m surprised that in the months since Duke died, a lot more people in Leyland seem to know about us and meningitus.

“When I nip to Tescos to do my shopping I can see some people looking at me, and others talk to me about Duke and give me positive comments.

“I’ve paid the price by losing Duke, but I hope that by us going through this, by talking about it and raising money, we can help save other families from going through the same thing.”

She added: “People have been very supportive and it helps when I’m told I’m doing a good job, but it’s hard.

“Amelia realises now that he’s not here and we do have bad days.

And when you hear about other children with meningitis it brings a lump to your throat. There was a girl who died of it last week in Bolton, and it’s heart-breaking to know it’s still going on.”

In April the family spoke of their relief that the Governmen had struck a deal for all babies to be given a potentially life-saving Meningitis B vaccine free of charge.

To fiind out more or donate to Duke’s fund, visit: http://duke-barton.muchloved.com/