Couple renew headstone appeal for tragic daughter

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A couple who suffered the heartbreak of losing their baby daughter have renewed their fundraising appeal to buy a special headstone for her resting place in Spalding Cemetery.

Ellie-May Grace Payne was just eight months and one week old when she passed away last July, a victim of cot death syndrome.

Her young parents, 
Ryan Payne and Emily Park, launched a public appeal towards their £2,500-plus appeal to buy a Me to You Bears headstone.

Some £700 was raised in two days thanks to donations made by 57 people.

The appeal grew to £1,850 but donations stalled eight months ago.

Ryan (20) and Emily (18) have now chosen a different design for the headstone, featuring Minnie Mouse, because the Me to You Bears monument would have been too big for the grave.

And they’re hoping new 
donors will come forward.

Ryan believes the new 
total for the Minnie Mouse headstone is £2,700, which leaves them around £900 to find.

Ryan said: “I would like to say thank you very much to the people who have donated so far.”

He says they’re both looking forward to reaching the target, adding: “It will be amazing. It would be really good.”

The new design for the gravestone has a special place in the couple’s hearts.

Ryan said: “Everything she (Ellie-May) wore was basically Minnie Mouse, so she liked it.”

Since the tragedy, Ryan has switched jobs from being a window fitter to working for a removals firm and Ellie 
started a year-long college course in childcare at Peterborough Regional College in September.

Ryan said: “We are OK. We are just getting through day by day, taking things one step at a time.”

Last year, Emily described the day they lost Ellie-May as the worst morning of her life.

She recalled waking to hear Ryan shouting “dial 999” after he found their baby daughter cold and lifeless in her cot.

Ryan and ambulance paramedics tried to revive the tot but sadly she lost her battle for life.

Writing on Facebook, Emily said: “Words can’t describe how heartbreaking it is.”

• To help the couple’s 
appeal please visit