Decades after tragic loss, elderly couple publish manuscript revealing heartache

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Decades after tragic loss, elderly couple publish manuscript revealing heartache

After losing their daughter when she was just days old in the 1950s, David and Beryl Davis release writings about the aftermath of the tragedy

Beryl Davis, Whitby, Yorkshire, 2009
Beryl Davis, Whitby, Yorkshire, 2009

They lost their daughter when she was just days old, never knowing what became of her, and lived with the loss for years, until one day in Yorkshire, they found rest.

Such is the loving, moving story of David and Beryl Davis, a Jewish couple from south London who, in the 1950s, went through what no parent ever should.

Now, decades on, the couple decided to do something with a manuscript David wrote about their lives and loss in the aftermath of the tragedy, recently rediscovered after years left filed and forgotten.

The couple, who are members of South London Synagogue, decided to publish it for free online, and establish a website whereby anyone can do the same, whereby readers are asked to make a charitable donation, rather than pay a fixed fee.

“I was recently cleaning out some cupboards and came across the manuscript which I had filed away many years ago and forgotten about,” said David, a former journalist for The Times. “Rather than turn it into waste paper, my family decided that we should share the story to raise money for charities dealing with human issues.”

His and Beryl’s highly personal story, called ‘Katie’s Seat,’ is one of the first on the newly-created website

Beryl Davis, Whitby, Yorkshire, 2009

It tells of a young couple who fell in love, married, and fell pregnant, before David got a feeling all was not well. After an effort bordering on the covert, he got a Consultant Obstetrician at St. George’s Hospital to tell him the truth – that there were problems, and that the unborn baby would have “physical defects”.

Over 23 pages, David recalls the heartache, the meetings, the legal wrangling, the call for support from his rabbi, the crying at Tube stations, the decision about whether to even look at their daughter Katie, and their eventual loss only a week later, a loss no-one can ever know or understand unless they’ve experienced it.

David & Beryl Davis 1971

“At first I turned to self-pity, how cruel life had been and what we had done to deserve this fate,” he writes. “I blamed everyone and everything. When my anger subsided my mind started to focus on the reality of the situation.”

The young couple were never told where the child had been buried, so she has no tombstone to this day. The title of the short script stems from the moment their anguish ended, high up on a Yorkshire clifftop.

It describes how the pair, who now live in Hertfordshire, eventually found solace while driving near Whitby in ‘God’s own county,’ when they came across a wooden bench on the cliff top overlooking Whitby beach.

“It was named Katie’s Seat and had been erected in memory of a young local lady who shared the same first name as our daughter,” David recalls.

“We sat in silence for hours on the bench thinking about the coincidence and once we had got over the shock we agreed that we would share Katie’s Seat as a memorial to our own daughter.”

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