Helen Daykin's little girls spent almost 24 hours with the body of their father after his sudden death.
When she rang in the morning she thought he was busy with the school run, then later that he might have lost his phone as there was no answer. At teatime, her mother drove over but couldn't open the door because Chris had left the keys in on the other side.
The milk was outside, the windows dark, so the police were called to break down the door.A terrible tragedy. But nothing's ever just that any more.
Pearl, who was four years old, had started school just a few weeks earlier. Iris was two.When a child doesn't attend, a school will normally call their contact number to check whether they are ill.
Pearl's school had tried Chris's number, but didn't ring Helen.The school did nothing wrong here. They did what they were supposed to, but in her grief, and to assuage the sense of guilt that she must inevitably feel, this has now become a crusade. No longer just a sad codicil, this is now a lever to demand change, to insist someone 'do something':
Helen wants all schools to overhaul how they check up on children who don't arrive at school. She says second and third contact numbers and home visits should be part of their plans.And, because she holds the status of 'grieving mother', bandwagon-jumpers everywhere will now scramble to unite behind her, no matter how ludicrous her demands.
Helen's campaign for better awareness is being backed by the Good Grief Trust charity, which has provided support through her bereavement.
Its founder, Linda Magistris, said: "A parent dies in this country every 22 minutes, and that could be one of those parents that are by themselves, nobody knows they're by themselves with the children."And if the children are under school or pre-school age, do we just shrug? Logically, the next step is to demand that there be some system set-up for these parents too. Where will it end?
In October 2016 Esther had a fatal epileptic fit, and Chadrack who had special needs, spent two weeks in their flat unable to get help.
The coroner's report describes how school staff called his mother's number several times. They also tried to visit twice, but couldn't get into the block of flats.
The coroner called for the government to make changes and set out the policy subsequently put in place at Chadrack's school:
Three contact numbers are kept for every child
If a pupil fails to attend with no explanation, someone is immediately sent to the family home
If there is no response, the police are contactedThey will be delighted, I'm sure. Where's all the money and spare staff time for this coming from?
As we all lead increasingly less stable & more chaotic lives, the demand to 'stop bad things happening' risks fuelling an increasingly overbearing state apparatus - for our own good, naturally!
Jim Gamble (Ed: Wait, this one..?) wants the government to go further.
As chair of the independent safeguarding board in Hackney he commissioned a report after Chadrack's death which has yet to be published. He says the government needs to "breathe life" into policies to put child safety first, and prevent another tragedy if a loving parent like Esther dies unexpectedly.Well, if anyone knows anything about hugely expensive, overbearing but ultimately futile government projects, it's Jim!