Belfast Telegraph

Harry Arter tells how team-mates and fans helped after tragic loss of daughter

Harry Arter has told how his Bournemouth team-mates and the fans provided support after the loss of his stillborn daughter.

Arter and partner Rachel Irwin were devastated after baby Renée died in the womb in December 2015.

The Republic of Ireland midfielder admits he was in a "dark place" in the days, weeks and months after the tragedy.

But gradually, and with the help of friends, family and the football community, Arter has been able to deal with the pain.

"I had an immediate desire to forget," he wrote in the Players' Tribune.

"When I got back to our house, I was obsessed with packing up Renée's nursery. It was just too painful to walk past.

"That seems totally shocking to me now, because now I'd never, ever, ever want to forget her.

" Luckily, I had Charlie Daniels and Simon Francis, two of my best mates, come and help me out of a really dark place.

"They came over straight away and put everything in the nursery in storage for us, because I think they knew that, eventually, we would want to build that nursery again. They're true friends.

"The next few days were a blur of emotion. I used football to distract myself from the pain, at least for a few hours.

"We had a match against Manchester United three days after we lost Renée. My heart was somewhere else, but I wanted to play, and Rachel supported it.

"The walk to the dressing room was the longest of my life. But when I got there, I didn't feel alone at all. Our manager Eddie Howe was incredible about everything.

"He arranged for a chaplain to come to the dressing room, and we all said a prayer for Renée in our huddle just before we went out to the tunnel.

"It was very emotional. We won the match, but that was beside the point. I just wanted to finish the match for Renée.

Arter and Rachel have since had their second daughter, Raine, and remain eternally grateful for the support they have received.

"I'll never forget, four days before Raine was due, we played Manchester City and Pep Guardiola walked up to me after the final whistle," he added.

"I thought he was just going to shake my hand, but he said, "I heard what happened and I am so very sorry. I want to wish you the very best this week.

"On what would have been Renée's first birthday, we were playing away at Burnley, and in the eighth minute, the whole ground stood up and applauded in her memory.

"I still have that match recorded on my TV, and I watch it sometimes to remind myself of Renée's impact on the world, and of the goodness of people. I will keep that recording forever.

"The waves of sadness will probably never go away, and I am thankful for that. As long as those waves live on, then so does Renée."

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