Obituary: Sam Key (1970-2023)

We are very sad to report the passing of Sam Key, the founder of Charlies-Angel-Centre Foundation child bereavement charity.

Sam was born in Leicester and lived in Nottingham before moving to Leeds where she worked as a carer.

Sam’s life changed in 2012 when her daughter Carrie gave birth to a beautiful boy called Charlie. Tragically Charlie had a rare and untreatable condition, Potters Syndrome, and died just 18 minutes after he was born.

Having lost her own son Tyler, who was stillborn in 2003, Sam was dismayed that there was still very little support available for people who had lost babies and children. With her husband Clive she offered herself as a person for bereaved parents to talk to.

They were inundated with calls and emails from across the country and around the world, but remembering how isolated they felt, they answered every request for help, signposting to local services where they can, offering an empathetic ear to everyone.

The service grew into the Charlies-Angel-Centre Foundation charity. As well as individual support, the charity lobbied for better statutory provision and held events including an annual memorial service for children who had died each Christmas at St Cross church in Middleton.

After years of fundraising the charity opened their own premises off Parkside Lane in Beeston in July 2019. Here they could offer one to one counselling in a tailor-made space, with each room named after a local child who had died. The new building was opened by the Lord Mayor of Leeds Cllr Eileen Taylor.

The following year Covid hit and lockdowns not only interrupted their work, but severely hindered their fundraising efforts, but the charity struggled on and continued to provide its valuable service to bereaved parents.

However, the difficult decision to close the charity was taken in February 2023 when health problems in the family proved to be the final straw. In a statement on Facebook they said:

“We have been reflecting over what we have achieved over the last 10 years and the thousands of families we have supported. We know we have made a difference to bereavement support and changes have begun. We are sure that Charlie is very proud of what we have all achieved and we are so very grateful for your support throughout the journey.”

Sam passed away on 28 December 2023 having never fully recovered from contracting sepsis 18 months previously. She is survived by her husband Clive, four children, two step children and seven grandchildren.

A fundraising page has been set up to help the family meet the costs of Sam’s funeral which will take place on Wednesday (31 January 2024) at 10:45am at Cottingley Hall Crematorium, ​Elland Road, LS11 0EU. The family would like it if those attending could wear a hint of blue as a link to Charlie and the charity.

You can still donate to help the family at: bit.ly/SamKey

 

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