Thousands of strangers assist grieving mum’s search for late baby’s doll after it got lost at zoo

Belfast Live
Baby Matilda and her dolls

Baby Matilda and her dolls before she tragically died at just three-months-old

Claire Gray’s little girl Matilda died in 2013 at just three-months-old after suffering from a rare condition and the devastated mum has carried the soft toy as a comfort ever since. Thousands of strangers from around the world have helped a grieving mum’s search for her late baby’s doll after it was lost during a trip to the zoo .

But during a recent visit to Dublin Zoo the doll went missing and Claire turned to Facebook in a bid to help her find it, Belfast Live reported.

The post has since gone viral with thousands of shares reaching as far as away as Australia.

Claire, from Newtownards, Co Down, says she has been touched by the support offered from complete strangers online and hopes that someone could return the brown-haired toy.

Belfast Live
Mum Claire, dad Kristopher with Archie, Matilda doll and a picture of baby Matilda
Mum Claire, dad Kristopher with Archie, Matilda doll and baby Matilda
Belfast Live
When baby Matilda met Matilda Doll
When baby Matilda met Matilda Doll a week after she was born in 2013

She said: “The support has been phenomenal and I was able to tell Stephen Nolan and his listeners about our situation and got a lovely response.

“People understand and have been very kind. They have even offered us dolls and offered to buy us dolls to replace Matilda Doll and I’m so grateful but I really just want the link with ours back and it returned to me.”

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Claire and her husband Kris tried to give their little girl as many experiences as possible before her life was cut short following her diagnosis with Trisomy 18 aged just five days.

She was given the ‘Matilda Doll’ when she came home from hospital at just a week old and for the last three years it has provided the family with a comforting link to the tot.

Belfast Live
Baby Matilda and her dolls
Baby Matilda, pictured with her dolls, was diagnosed with Trisomy 18 when she was five days old

Claire said: “I have an ache in my arms where my Matilda used to be and I found it very comforting to hold her doll. It was our link to our little baby and we are desperate to get the doll back.”

The couple travelled back to Dublin on their fifth wedding anniversary to look for the doll but so far they have had no luck.

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Claire said: “Somewhere between the zoo shop, gate and Lord Walk’s car park at Phoenix Park, Matilda Doll went missing. She means more than words can express. For us she is a piece of our little daughter Matilda.

“I feel so stupid for losing her and very distressed but I’m hopeful some kind soul will get her back to us.”