166,431 reasons to remember

On Friday 17th June, Cooper made the front page of the Bairnsdale Advertiser!

Robert and Kylie Trewin’s story gives true testament to the fact that something positive can arise from of a horrible situation that no parent should have to go through.

Readers of the Bairnsdale Advertiser would no doubt be aware of the death of the Trewin’s son Cooper, such has been the support of the community that has rallied behind them since his passing in February 2010.

Cooper Trewin was born on October 7, 2008, a happy baby and a delight to his first time parents.

“He was a perfectly healthy, happy little boy, he had just started walking and he was fairly advanced in his vocabulary,” Kylie remembered.

“He was already well-known around in the community because he was always out and about socialising.

“His first word was ‘dad’,” Kylie laughed, “because his dad worked pretty hard to ensure that was the case. But ‘mum’ came a close second.

“He loved bath times, it was his favourite time of the day.

“But my favourite part of the day was the mornings, because he’d get up and have a cuddle on the couch with me, it was our special time together.

“He also had the most infectious little giggle and he loved riding around on the lawnmower with his dad,” Kylie said.

But little Cooper never made it to his second birthday, passing away on February 6, 2010, at just 16 months of age, of a little known label Sudden Unexplained Death in Children (SUDC).

Bereaved, frustrated and angry, Robert and Kylie had never heard of SUDC and couldn’t understand why it had targeted them and their perfectly happy family.

“One thing I questioned was why? Kylie and I had done so much for the community; we’d done a whole lot of good stuff like being involved in Rotary.

Why did this happen to us?” Robert asked.

But the fact that the couple had been such active members of the community and volunteered for different organisations, was the reason East Gippsland did all that they could to help them survive this terrible time.

Anne Cross from Sunrise Rotary walked into Robert’s office a short time later and donated a park bench, from White Rose Furniture in Bairnsdale, to sit and reflect in ‘Cooper’s Corner’, an area the Trewins had set aside in their garden for a memorial for their son.

“Richard Davis from White Rose Furniture was so touched by the loss of our son that he said he’d donate another seat as a raffle prize to raise some money,” Robert said.

“So Anne asked us, where did we want the money to go?”

The Trewins didn’t take long to make a decision.

Robert and Kylie decided that they wanted to raise money to go toward research into SUDC because there was next to no information available due to the rarity of the condition.

While SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) is relatively well known, due to Red Nose Day and the Safe Sleeping campaign, SUDC is unheard of by many parents.

SUDC is explained as the sudden and unexpected death of a child over the age of 12 months, which remains unexplained after a thorough case investigation is conducted.

So, a long and tireless fundraising campaign was embarked upon by the grieving parents, giving them something to focus on.

The raffle raised $28,000 and Auction for an Angel managed to raise a whopping $105,309.

“The support for the auction blew us away,” Kylie said.

“The town can hold their heads high that they’ve helped his happen.”

All this effort and community support culminated on Wednesday with Robert and Kylie handing over a cheque to Sids and Kids chief executive officer Karen Passey worth $166,431 to set up a research fund for Sudden Unexplained Death Syndrome in the name of their son Cooper.

The money will help to establish a partnership with SIDS and Kids and the Cooper Trewin Memorial Trust SUDC Research Fund.

The Trewins have also set up a website – www.sudc.com.au – so parents who want to learn more about this tragic happening can log on to an Australian website. Previously there was only an American site available.

Ms Passey said the money would give the organisation the opportunity to create a fund specifically to look at research into SUDC.

“Previously the attention has been on research into SIDS, mainly due to the number of deaths as a result of SUDC being smaller,” she said.

“But now we will be able to do collaborative studies with America, specifically Dr Henry Krous (a leading SUDC researcher).

“The work that Kylie and Robert have done is quite incredible when you consider they are grieving the loss of their son and it is amazing to think that this money might be able to prevent it for other families going forward.

“They came up with the idea and the surrounding community has been wonderfully supportive. It’s a testament to both of them and how hard they’ve worked to raise that money.”

Robert and Kylie have been proud to welcome their adorable little daughter Chelsea into the world three-and-a-half months ago.

Kylie said that they found out they were pregnant with her just five months after Cooper’s passing.

“It’s never going to take the pain away, but it gives us something to live for and put a smile back on our faces,” Kylie said.

“We’re very proud of her, she’s a spectacular little girl who looks after us.”

Robert and Kylie said that they have been a little concerned about her health, and they have attached a monitor to her cot to help them sleep easy.

But the Trewins are moving forward and will always support SUDC and hold fundraisers to gain vital money to continue the research into it, including a golf day coming up and a AFL match for Red Nose Day.

“We still just want Cooper to be proud of us,” Robert said.