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Of course, his loss in , when I was a presenter on morning television, became huge news and the focus of a national campaign to help prevent cot deaths like his. A campaign that experts say has saved as many as 20, lives. It always makes me look back with immense pride as well as grief. Thanks to my four other sons, I have always been determined to be a vibrant family of which Sebastian would be proud.

But while grief - I think - never leaves you, it does mature, like an old wine. One particular photo, too poignant to stick into any family album, sums up the sorrow of that day. It surfaced just a few days ago, when I was researching for a speech I was asked to give to the Foundation for the Study of Infant Death. There, amid the reams of paperwork and reports, was the picture of Oliver, taken on the day he should have celebrated being four, but which became the day his little brother died and our world turned upside down.

Anne, pictured here with co-presenter Nick Owen, was at the height of her fame when tragedy struck It had all started out so happily. I could tell immediately something was wrong. The moment I touched him, the thundering reality hit me.

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He was cold, and deadly stiff. Then I snapped into real time and ran to the window to call for help. One bar came clean away in my hand.

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  • I rapped furiously on the window pane and I saw Mike look up, his face at first curious, changing within a split second to horror. I saw him start to run. I turned back to the cot. The cold of his body was chilling - the back of his head, where I always put a steadying hand, felt like a ball of stone. His face seemed cruelly squashed and his flesh deadly white, except for purple blotches where the blood had settled.

    My precious, warm, milky son was now a stiff cold statue, like a porcelain doll. A young policeman almost fell through the door, white with shock. He knelt beside me and I could see his eyes were reddening. Then a tear whitened his cheek. After the death of Sebastian, Anne went on to have another son I held out a hand to him.

    We all surrendered to more tears. And so there we were, like actors in some grotesque, slow-motion dream sequence from a morbid movie.

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    Three grown adults weeping like babies over a dead child, in a pastel playroom nursery on a sunny summer morning in London. And yet there it is. To tell its awful truth, even after 20 years, is not to dwell on grief but to find a way to cope with life. It was the same with us. My dad stood watch at the garden gate with a high-powered garden hose to fend off the long lenses. We even laughed about it at the time.

    Yet it worked — it kept the photographers away. Right away, I was desperate that his death should mean something. After the death of Sebastian, Anne and Mike kick-started a cot death awareness campaign Sky News burbled in the corner of every room. So intense was the present that the future seemed impossible to comprehend. But life started to go on, even though every minute felt like a betrayal. She got him to turn up and sing a beautiful Nunc Dimittis, and he even brought a fellow trumpeter with him.

    Wonderful, sad, inspirational letters flooded in from the famous and sympathetic and similarly bereaved. The former England footballer Jimmy Greaves had been through the same tragedy himself and wrote to offer his sympathy. One card was from a woman in Andover, who had lost her child to cot death, too.

    My Robert would have been 50 now. I always have a little weep when I go to his grave. I am nearly 77 years old.

    Will I still feel such pain, for ever? The number of cot deaths has reduced dramatically in the last 20 years. Research shows that the risk is cut if babies sleep on their backs And now, 20 years later, here I am.

    So many others I have met lost their children when research was in its infancy, and there were no campaigns to start, no advice to give. But in we had indeed found a breakthrough and yet the information had not been passed on to mums and dads in Britain. The truth is that the Department of Health knew this astonishing fact and was waiting for more data.

    Our Department of Health had actually agreed NOT to tell parents the life-saving advice, while in New Zealand and in Avon there were full-blown campaigns to save lives. I still believe that if we had lived in Bristol or New Zealand, he would be alive today. In my anguish, I turned to everyone I could think of to get British parents the same deal.

    He advised me that ministers are like firemen.

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    So I decided to make a big blaze. I got a call from Virginia Bottomley, then health minister. Would I pop round to her offices in Whitehall?

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  • I had trouble convincing her we needed a TV campaign. We could only afford one showing, but it worked. The next phone call from Whitehall showed the Government had woken up.

    And that is how we eventually got the Back To Sleep campaign. It ran on TV throughout the winter of and started saving lives immediately. Cot death numbers plummeted from 2, a year to about , where they stubbornly remain even now.

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  • The Golden Rules still apply - babies must sleep on their backs, must not be overwrapped, and smoking near them can be deadly. If only we could get young parents to stop smoking, the figures could fall further. Even more frightening is the evidence that some young mums are beginning to talk on internet chat rooms about the fact that laying your baby on his tummy might actually make him sleep longer, and more soundly.

    STEP 4 This is where you start to quietly move your chair further away from her bed — quietly move it two feet away and sit for a couple of minutes; then move it to the middle of the room for a couple of minutes; and then move to beside the door. After the death of Sebastian, Anne went on to have another son I held out a hand to him. When will you move your child to a big bed?

    Perhaps it is time for another cot death campaign, to renew the life-saving message. Sebastian has no grave at which to weep. Only his father and I know where his ashes are scattered. I prefer memories and photographs to remember him by. One well-wisher wrote to me: Today, though, I think of him as the young man only his mother still knows. Share or comment on this article: Anne Diamond recalls the awful day she lost her son to cot death Most watched News videos.



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