One last ride for baby Laurentian

Laurentian Kevin Corrin Webster. Photo: Sally Anne Photography
Laurentian Kevin Corrin Webster. Photo: Sally Anne Photography
Named after a car, 102-day-old Laurentian was accompanied on his final ride by a 1967 Pontiac.

Provided by a stranger, this is just one example of what Hoon Hay Food Bank founders and operators Corrin Webster and Nicole Sutherland say has been an amazing response after the death of their baby boy.

A Givealittle page has 190 donations, raising $7448 so far, and organisations and individuals have reached out to support the family.

“Normally we’re the ones helping people, but to see everybody give back to us is pretty amazing,” Sutherland said.

Laurentian was delivered with an emergency caesarean section at 30 weeks on November 29, weighing just 2.2 lb. He passed away on March 11.

A convoy of classic cars, including the hearse, turned out for the funeral this month in response to a public call to give Laurentian a special send-off.

Sutherland estimated about 30 classic car owners took part in the funeral convoy.

“We had a huge turnout. We had a whole bunch of strangers from car clubs all over the South Island turn up for us.”

Corrin Webster, Mercedez Webster, Nicole Sutherland and Portia Webster visit baby Laurentian at...
Corrin Webster, Mercedez Webster, Nicole Sutherland and Portia Webster visit baby Laurentian at Christchurch Hospital. Photo: Supplied
Manaakitanga Funeral Service covered the funeral costs and Majesteez Kai provided catering for the funeral, including meals leading up to it, for free.

“They’ve done a big hangi, they’ve done all of the food. It’s been amazing,” Sutherland said.

With the couple’s daughters named Mercedez and Portia, Laurentian’s name followed a theme for the car enthusiasts.

The first old car the couple brought together was a 1967 Pontiac Laurentian, which they had since sold but still retained its good memories.

At two-weeks-old, Laurentian was diagnosed with Down’s syndrome and associated health problems.

A fighter, he seemed to be doing well but his health started to deteriorate at 60 days.

“Our little man fought to the very end. We never gave up hope that he would make it and neither did the [neonatal intensive care unit] team right until the very end.”

A stranger provided his 1967 Pontiac for Laurentian’s funeral. Photo: Supplied
A stranger provided his 1967 Pontiac for Laurentian’s funeral. Photo: Supplied
To celebrate his 100-day milestone, Laurentian’s doctors and nurses threw him a party with a cake and a card, and his room was decked out with matchbox cars.

The couple are struggling with the loss of their baby who meant “everything” to them.

“I can’t tell you how much we loved him,” Sutherland said.

However, they felt well supported.

“We want to thank everybody, and we want to recognise the efforts of the NICU staff, they are amazing.”

The couple continued to run the foodbank over the busy Christmas holiday period, a difficult task which they worked around visiting Laurentian in hospital.

Laurentian's funeral convoy. Photo: Supplied
Laurentian's funeral convoy. Photo: Supplied
Now they are taking a break but plan to start back up shortly.

“We’re hoping this year to use the foodbank to maybe raise some awareness for Down’s syndrome or for The Neonatal Trust.”

Webster said his son continues to have a big fan base.

“He was a gift to us for 102 days, that’s how we feel,” he said.

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