A BRAVE couple, who lost their three-month-old baby to a rare muscular condition, are backing a fundraising campaign set up in his memory.

John and Tracey Chad, of Parkside, Darlington, said they were honoured to be asked by Butterwick House Children’s Hospice to put son Matthew’s name to an appeal to raise £25,000.

The money raised from Matthew’s Memory Appeal, which will be launched today, will fund a sick children’s nurse.

Matthew was diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy, a neuromuscular condition causing weakness of the muscles, when he was 11-weeksold.

His parents, who unbeknown to them were carriers of the disease, were told by doctors their first child could only have weeks months to live.

“We were devastated,” said Mrs Chad, who is expecting their third child in two weeks.

“He was our first child and we had no reason to think there was anything wrong.

“There was nothing anyone could do – we just wanted to spend as much time with him as we could.”

Darlington Memorial Hospital informed the couple about the help and support available to them at Butterwick House Children’s Hospice, in Stockton.

“The hospice staff were excellent,”

said Mrs Chad.

“They could not have done any more for us. We lost Matthew very quickly after he was diagnosed, which was very hard, but good in that he didn’t suffer as long as he might have done.”

Matthew died on September 22, 2004, but the couple, along with five-year-old son Andrew, are still regular visitors to the hospice.

Mrs Chad said: “The help the hospice provides is invaluable – we can’t praise them enough. We still go there to take part in events and they are always happy to include Andrew and help him. We always feel welcome.”

The couple are urging people to support the campaign to raise money for a new nurse.

Mrs Chad said: “We were honoured to be asked. It is a way of putting Matthew’s mark on the world.

“We are happy to do anything to help the hospice. Obviously the more staff the more time their can spend on one-to-one care.

“It is very important and an extra nurse will make a big difference.”

Fundraising events will take place throughout the year, but people are being encouraged to donate to the appeal by calling the hospice on 01642-628930 or by visiting butterwick.org.uk