'Losing our daughter was hell...but I wouldn't change it': Mistresses star Sarah Parish reveals how Ella-Jayne's tragic death at eight-months-old offered moments of 'euphoria' – and inspired her to build a children’s hospital

  • Sarah Parish has described the 'hell' and the 'euphoria' experienced after losing her daughter Ella-Jayne to a heart condition at just 8-months-old 
  • The 48-year-old and her husband James Murray found their daughter lifeless in her cot in January 2008 after battling heart defect since birth 
  • The actress describes moment of watching Ella-Jayne take a bottle of milk the day before her death as 'complete happiness'
  • Couple are raising funds for a new Southampton children's trauma centre

Actress Sarah Parish has revealed how tragically losing her baby daughter has spurred her and husband James Murray on to build a new hospital.

Ella-Jayne was just eight months old when she passed away in her cot at home in 2008 after battling a congenital heart defect. 

The couple, who also have a six-year-old daughter Nell, have revealed that losing their first-born child took them to 'hell' but even during their darkest moments, there was a 'euphoria' at having known her.

Sarah Parish and James Murray have revealed how their daughter Ella-Jayne's death at just eight-months-old in January 2008 has led them to 'dig deep' in a bid to helps others

Sarah Parish and James Murray have revealed how their daughter Ella-Jayne's death at just eight-months-old in January 2008 has led them to 'dig deep' in a bid to helps others

The couple, who say they wouldn't change their family's story, are trying to raise £2million for a new trauma centre in Southampton as Ella-Jayne's legacy 

The couple, who say they wouldn't change their family's story, are trying to raise £2million for a new trauma centre in Southampton as Ella-Jayne's legacy 

The couple have already raised more than £300,000 for the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit at University Hospital Southampton

The couple have already raised more than £300,000 for the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit at University Hospital Southampton

In an interview with The Times, Parish, 48, known for lead roles in Peak Practice, Mistresses and Cutting It, revealed that she and Murray spent a month in Cambodia doing hard labour following their daughter's death. 

The pair, who wed in 2007, say they decided to 'bugger off' in the midst of their grief because drinking themselves 'to death in a pub' seemed the only other viable option.

In the year that Ella-Jayne would have celebrated her 7th birthday, the couple are now planning to create a state-of-the-art trauma centre at University Hospital Southampton, which requires £2million in funding.

The hospital will be their daughter's legacy, with funds raised via the Murray Parish Trust, and Parish reveals that she wouldn't change a thing about the family's story because every time someone makes a donation, the couple say: 'Yeah, well done girl.' 

The couple, who wed in 2007 and have a daughter Nell, 6, told The Times that in the immediate aftermath of their daughter's death, they went to Cambodia to do hard labour in an orphanage for a month

The couple, who wed in 2007 and have a daughter Nell, 6, told The Times that in the immediate aftermath of their daughter's death, they went to Cambodia to do hard labour in an orphanage for a month

'Every year I write her a birthday card and keep it for us.There are sad days but also happy days': The 48-year-old star explained she likes to mark the day by writing to Ella - keeping the card for her and James to cherish

'Every year I write her a birthday card and keep it for us.There are sad days but also happy days': The 48-year-old star explained she likes to mark the day by writing to Ella - keeping the card for her and James to cherish

In the candid interview, Parish also reveals that she had enjoyed one of the best moments of her life when Ella-Jayne had taken a full bottle, just hours before she passed away, a moment that most parents take for granted.

 'We felt like kids. We didn't know what we were doing. You're just trying to keep her alive.'
Sarah Parish

She says: 'Most people look at us like we're mad."You found complete happiness watching a baby take a bottle?" But we did. It was one of the most joyous moments of my life. And it was only that joyous because of the hell we'd experienced prior to it.' 

Parish says her and her husband were 'bobbing along nicely' before Ella-Jayne was born, a moment when their lives were tipped upside down with a series of operations on their little girl leaving the couple in a constant state of worry. 

Ella-Jayne was born five weeks prematurely and was diagnosed with a hole in her heart while Parish was still pregnant.

The Murray Parish Trust persuaded the government to match their funding, with George Osborne announcing the plans in this year's budget

The Murray Parish Trust persuaded the government to match their funding, with George Osborne announcing the plans in this year's budget

Following her delivery, they spent the next four months in intensive care after two emergency operations. 

Parish says: 'We felt like kids. We didn't know what we were doing. You're just trying to keep her alive.' 

Ella-Jayne finally passed away at their Hampshire home in 'deep, dark' January at just eight months old.

The couple say their focus now is on daughter Nell and raising precious funds for the Southampton hospital.

George Osborne announced in this year's budget that the government would match the funds raised to build the specialist A&E centre in Southampton - funds currently stand at £28,500. 

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