Carmarthenshire boy, 4, walks 5km a day in memory of baby brother

By Rachael Garside
BBC Wales News

  • Published
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"We've been left to grieve in a bubble"

A four-year-old boy is walking or running three miles (5km) every day for a week in memory of his baby brother.

Ben Dixon was born in January with a congenital diaphragmatic hernia but died this month from complications following a heart and lung bypass.

His older brother Sam has been walking in his village in Carmarthenshire, ahead of Ben's funeral on Thursday.

Sam has received support from Wales head coach Wayne Pivac and raised almost £13,000 for good causes.

Image source, Family photo
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Ben Dixon was just three months old when he died after being born with a congenital diaphragmatic hernia

Ben's condition meant his bowel contents developed in his chest, restricting his lung development and displacing his heart. He underwent major surgery but died at the Noah's Ark Hospital in Cardiff on 9 April.

His parents Kelly and Gareth and brother Sam, who turned four just days after his brother's death, have been left to grieve in isolation at their home in Capel Dewi due to coronavirus lockdown measures.

On their daily strolls, they came up with the idea of raising money for the charities that helped during Ben's illness.

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"Sam keeps going and he thrives when we go for a walk," said his mother Kelly

"We were walking up the hill and happened to hit 5km and we said to Sam, 'Would you like to do this every day so we can talk about Ben?'," said Kelly.

"Sam keeps going and he thrives when we go for a walk. We're so unbelievably proud of him.

"It's helped us feel closer to our family and friends because we can't give him the send off he deserves."

They initially set a fundraising target of £500 but have received donations from as far as Canada and Australia as well as messages of support from Welsh rugby stars like Ken Owens and Stephen Jones.

Image source, Getty Images
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Celebrity support - Wales rugby stars including head coach Wayne Pivac have backed Sam

Ben's funeral will be held on Thursday, although current rules only allow 10 people to be present.

His father Gareth said Sam's fundraising challenge had been a welcome distraction to help cope with their loss.

"It's devastating in normal circumstances, but not seeing friends and family, not having that support network to help us through this has been really tough," he said.

"It's been a tremendous distraction. We were dreading this week. It's been a long time since Ben's passing - three weeks - and the efforts of Sam have raised our spirits and got us through the toughest time of our lives."