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The look of love; brothers were together only eight weeks - but their bond will last forever.

Byline: DAVE ROBSON dave.robson@reachplc.com @Daverobson_gaz

THEY were together for only a short time - but it was enough for twin brothers Teddy and Buddy Richmond to form an unbreakable bond. And as Teddy grows up, his parents know that Buddy's remarkable spirit will be with him all the way.

They entered the world far earlier than expected, with mum Ashleigh giving birth at 27 weeks during a trip to Edinburgh with husband Paul.

The tiny tots barely tipped the scales - Teddy, who arrived first, weighing exactly 2lb and little Buddy just 1lb 14oz.

Sadly, Buddy soon encountered health problems that proved too much for his little body and he died, with his loving family - and twin Teddy - by his side in Middlesbrough's James Cook University Hospital.

But Paul says Buddy's eight weeks were precious - and money the family is raising for James Cook's neonatal unit "angels" will be part of his legacy.

Boosbeck joiner Paul, 35, married hairdresser Ashleigh, 27, in August and, with the twins not due for months, they went away to see the Edinburgh Christmas markets - only for the boys to make their very early arrival.

Paul said: "We named them as they were born really. When Teddy came out first, he looked like a little Teddy bear.

"Then Buddy, who was a lot smaller, looked like the little Christmas elf Buddy. And because we'd already considered both names anyway, it was the natural choice.

They were their skin tracing paper could fit palm of Dad "They were that small, their skin was like tracing paper and you could fit Buddy in the palm of your hand. When babies are so small, they're sometimes very quiet when they're born but our two screamed their heads off straight away."

Teddy was moved to James Cook on Christmas Eve, with Buddy following on December 27. But on January 7, Paul's birthday, things took a dramatic turn.

that small, was like and you in the hand.

Paul said: "We got a call at quarter past five in the morning, telling us we needed to get into hospital quickly for Buddy.

"When we got there, they told us he'd developed NEC (the serious childhood intestinal condition Necrotizing Entercolitis) and had been moved into intensive care, where they were prepping him for surgery on his badly inflamed tummy.

"Apparently NEC can develop so fast. It's also quite common in premature infants but we had no idea about it.

"It is treatable, but only if they catch it in time. But with Buddy, it was very late."

Paul says a normal baby has about 1.5m of small intestine. Buddy was left with only about 30cm - the part he needed to absorb nutrients and water.

But on Friday, January 25 - with all the trauma and lack of oxygen he had endured - the couple were told Buddy had severe brain damage.

Paul said: "They said it was going to affect his movement, sight, thinking, everything.

"The way they looked at it was that he'd had two major system errors. The poor little lad didn't stand a chance.

"It was such a shock. After his surgery, they warned us he might be in hospital for up to a year. We'd kind of got our heads around that and thought there was going to be light at the end of the tunnel, so be told this was devastating."

Tragically, Buddy lost his brave fight on February 2 in the company of his adoring family - and the non-identical twin he'd been christened with in hospital.

At more than 6lb, Teddy is now flourishing.

Paul said: "He's doing really well and just looking at him means we'll never forget Buddy. He'll be a constant reminder - and we'll have pictures of Buddy everywhere, and talk about him."

Buddy's funeral will be at Boosbeck Church on February 20 at 2pm and, says Paul, "we want as many people as possible to celebrate his life".

Twins Teddy, left, Buddy Richmond, and Ashleigh, Paul's son Jay, Boro fan Paul also hopes to hold a memorial football match in his memory every year, with the family eager to raise money for the James Cook neonatal unit.

Paul said: "They're angels - walking angels. I can think of thousands of reasons why we have to give something back to them - they're amazing."

He added: "Buddy put up a hell of a fight. The night before he died, they took the mask off him that he used to breathe and replaced it with tubes in his nose, so we could see his face properly.

"He was beautiful, perfect. It's how we will remember him."

| To contribute to the fund for the neonatal unit, go to www.gofundme.com/james-cookneonatal-unit

fiv"They were that small, their skin was like tracing paper and you could fit Buddy in the palm of your hand. Dad Paul

CAPTION(S):

Twins Teddy, left, and Buddy Richmond, Paul and Ashleigh, and Paul's son Jay, 12

Buddy, who was 'beautiful, perfect'

Twins Teddy, left,and Buddy. Right, with mum Ashleigh
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Publication:Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Feb 11, 2019
Words:840
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