'Our daughter choked to death on a grape and that horror never goes away'

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Jasmine Lapsley, from Anfield, choked on a grape while playing cards (Image: Liverpool Echo)
Jasmine Lapsley, from Anfield, choked on a grape while playing cards (Image: Liverpool Echo)

A dad who set up a charity in memory of his little girl who choked to death while on holiday says "I hope we're making her proud" as he backs a new device.

Jasmine Lapsley, from Anfield, choked on a grape while playing cards with her brothers in a holiday home in Morfa Nefyn, North Wales, at around 8.30pm on August 19, 2014.

Her parents, Rob and Kathy, tried desperately to save her, but the six-year-old died after waiting 25 minutes for paramedics to arrive, reports Liverpool Echo.

Two years after their daughter's tragic death, Rob and Kathy set up their own charity, Love Jasmine, to provide bereavement support to other families who have lost their children.

Rob said: "We're coming up to our seventh anniversary. When we started it, it was to put in place peer support for families, because there was nothing specifically in our area. My wife wasn't able to talk to anyone, and it was the same for Jasmine's siblings. That was the main driver, and since then it has developed to provide self care strategies as well as practical help with referrals.

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'Our daughter choked to death on a grape and that horror never goes away'Her parents, Rob and Kathy, tried desperately to save her (Liverpool Echo)

"The biggest one is counselling. We started our counselling service in 2019 after families were struggling to find it elsewhere, and that has really grown in the past few years - we're now seeing 45 families a week.

"Ultimately we wouldn't be doing this if Jasmine hadn't died. If it was solely about Jasmine and keeping her memory alive, there's lots of other things that we could have done. But this is what was needed. We're only able to do this because of what we went through, so the support we provide is all from her. That's why it's called Love Jasmine. We get to say her name every day, and I hope we're making her proud. I'm sure we are."

Love Jasmine, which is based in Wavertree, was recently awarded a £355,000 grant from the National Lottery Fund, to be used over three years.

The charity has now partnered with Devon-based LifeVac Europe, which manufactures regulated LifeVac anti-choking devices. The company's choking rescue device - a face mask attached to a one-way valve which, when pushed, creates a powerful suction to remove blockages from a person's airway - was recently approved by the UK medical device regulatory body, MHRA.

Rob said: “Kathy and I are convinced that had we or the emergency services had access to a Lifevac then Jasmine would be still with us and we wouldn’t be dealing with a lifetime of grief and trauma.

'Our daughter choked to death on a grape and that horror never goes away'Matthew Banagan presenting a LifeVac to Kathy Lapsley at the Love Jasmine office (Liverpool Echo)

"They're really inexpensive, and it should be part of everyday first aid. It could save a life, it's that simple. So we're eager to promote it.

"We've got one in the office, we've got one at home. We hope we'll never have to use it, but it's there if we do. It's just a matter of raising awareness, and hopefully it will save some lives."

Matthew Banagan from LifeVac Europe said: “I first met Rob and Kathy in 2017, as soon as I spoke with them, I immediately knew that I wanted to help do something in memory of their daughter Jasmine and help stop more tragic incidences like this from happening when first aid fails in a choking emergency. Now the MHRA have lifted our restrictions in the UK, we can now do just that."

Rob added: "It never goes away. It's always there and it's something you carry around. Kathy and I both have bad days and that's ultimately never going to change. Some days we struggle, but being able to do this every day, you see others in the same position and there's strength in numbers. You're not on your own.

"In many ways, we shouldn't exist. Everything we do should be readily available anyway. But I don't think the need for the charity is ever going to not be there. These things are always going to happen. Children can die for different reasons. And it's not just families of young children; it's old people who have lost adult children as well. There's always going to be a need for what we do and we just hope to continue to meet that need.

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"When people come here, they don't feel like a number on a waiting list. That's something that's so important to us. As long as we keep doing what we're doing, I think we'll be OK."

Wesley Holmes

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