Inquest hears father fell from Briton Ferry M4 bridge just days after son died
A HEARTBROKEN mum lost her baby son and husband in two tragedies just five days apart.
Rhian Burke, 35, and her husband Paul, 33, were in shock at the death of their son George at the age of just 12 months.
And five days later Rhian was given the news that Paul had plunged to his death from a motorway bridge at Briton Ferry.
Mother-of-three Rhian said: "One minute we were a normal family getting on with life - the next it was all over.
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"George was his normal, happy self just seconds before having a sudden fit.
"He had eaten all his dinner and was playing on the floor. He just fell backwards and didn't move.
"We both screamed and phoned for an ambulance. He started fitting and we couldn't stop it."
George was taken to hospital but died hours later leaving the couple totally devastated.
The pair returned home to the village of Miskin, near Cardiff, and were planning little George's funeral.
Rhian said: "Paul took the car for a drive - I didn't think anything of it.
"We had cried together and were planning funeral arrangements for George.
"We had even talked of taking our other two young children away on holiday to Lapland.
"I hadn't noticed anything different in his character.
"Paul took the car along the M4 and fell to his death from a bridge. When I was given the news, it nearly killed me.
"Paul should be here today to support me, but he isn't.
"I am in no way cross or angry with what he did, as he was the kindest, loveliest person you could ever meet.
"He lit up every room he entered. He was a very proud man who loved his family very much."
A coroner recorded a verdict of accidental death rather than suicide, due to Paul's post traumatic stress disorder, diagnosed in the days after George's death.
More than 450 people attended a joint funeral for Paul and George at Llandaff Cathedral in Cardiff after the double tragedy a year ago.
Brave Rhian did not leave her home for six months as she battled to overcome her grief.
But she has now set up her own bereavement charity to help others overcome family traumas.
She is campaigning for specially trained bereavement counsellors to call at the home of any parent who loses a child within 24 hours of their death.
Rhian said: "I believe Paul would still be alive today if he had received immediate trauma counselling.
"Within hours of suffering a fit my baby was gone, just like that.
"Paul and I were made to walk the length of the Royal Glamorgan Hospital with the nurse carrying our dead child, watching as other mothers went by with their pushchairs.
"Then we were ushered out without any proper help or advice.
"That's when I knew there was a major gap in the system, with nobody taking responsibility for bereavement support.
"The current bereavement system in the NHS fails to offer any aftercare, particularly for grieving fathers."
Rhian's 2 Wish Upon a Star charity has raised £50,000 to help improve bereavement support after charity balls and events were held in Paul and George's memory.
And Rhian, of Miskin, near Cardiff, is now conducting talks on her experiences to help the NHS and the police deal with similar tragedies.
Rhian said: "People ask me how I cope, but the charity work has really given me a focus.
"I'm only a small person, but I'm determined to change things - it's what my husband would have wanted.
"The support from my family, friends, South Wales Police and even complete strangers has been truly overwhelming," she said.
"It upsets me to think Paul will never meet these people. He would've appreciated it so much."