Tsunami couple's baby joy
THE family of Britain's youngest tsunami victim have spoken of their joy after the birth of a baby girl - just over a year after the disaster. Richard and Deirdre Smith's two-month-old son Charlie died in his father's arms when the giant wave struck a Sri Lankan village on Boxing Day 2004.
THE family of Britain's youngest tsunami victim have spoken of their joy after the birth of a baby girl - just over a year after the disaster.
Richard and Deirdre Smith's two-month-old son Charlie died in his father's arms when the giant wave struck a Sri Lankan village on Boxing Day 2004.
But the pair, who live in Higham near Bury St Edmunds, yesterday described the arrival of daughter Alice Charlotte as “a new beginning”.
Mr Smith told a national newspaper: “It was well worth the wait. Alice is everything we dreamed of.
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“To have such a healthy baby after the anguish we've suffered is a joy beyond our wildest imagination.
“And we're so pleased for the baby's sake that her birthday won't now be on a date that will always be a very sad one for us.”
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His wife added: “It's a new beginning for the whole family and we all feel blessed.”
Alice weighed in at 10lb 9oz when she was born at the West Suffolk Hospital, Bury St Edmunds. She was conceived in the same village where her brother died in the 2004 disaster.
She was expected on Boxing Day - the first anniversary of the disaster - but was born a week late.
Mr Smith, whose father Eric Richard played The Bill's Sgt Bob Cryer for 17 years, said: “Dad was absoutely ecstatic.
“He kept saying it was fantastic news, the best we could have hoped for and the perfect boost for both sides of our family after such a terrible year.”
Baby Charlie died in his father's arms as the killer waves flattened the Sri Lankan village of Unawatuna.
The family lit a candle for Charlie on Boxing Day at the exact time the tsunami hit before travelling to London to attend a memorial at the Sri Lankan High Commission.
The service came after the close family “endured” an emotional Christmas Day, described by Mr Smith as a “burden”.
He explained: “We really tried to get into the festive spirit. But we all found it hard to concentrate. We preferred to talk about the previous Christmas and how happy we'd been, sitting on the beach with Charlie and some of our Sri Lankan friends, toasting marshmallows on a fire under the hot sun.
“We remember gazing up at the moon and stars, all thinking how lucky we were to be in our favourite part of the world.
“This Christmas we were grateful for calls from family and friends, anxious to know how we are coping, what presents we'd got and what we were having for dinner.
“But everything seems trivial, meaningless and quite irrelevant. The one gift we wanted for Christmas, above everything else - our dear little Charlie - we couldn't have.”
The couple - who also have a 17-year-old daughter Sinead and son Niall, 15 - told the paper that the arrival of Alice was the “best New Year gift we could possibly have wished for”.
Mr Smith said: “When Sinead saw Alice, she called her 'princess' and Niall said she was 'magic'. “Deidrie's mum just kept looking at the baby, saying how beautiful she was - and she is. Charlie was a beautiful baby too and Alice looks just like him - only with hair.
“She kept us awake crying most of the first night she was home, but we didn't care.
“She can cry as loud as she wants. It shows she's healthy and hopefully, that she's as happy with us as we are with her. We just cuddled and comforted her and kept saying how much we love her.”