Repair Shop viewers are in tears over their parents and their premature son

Repair Shop viewers were in tears over the story of a couple who had their painting restored in memory of their son who was lost too soon.

Jenny and James Halse, from Sheffield, turned to experts at the BBC1 show for help repairing a seascape by 19th-century artist Edwin Hayes with close ties to their son, Elijah, who died in March 2013 at just 37 days old.

“His arrival and departure was a life-changing experience for us,” Jenny said during the show. ‘You have before Elijah and you have after Elijah. And we’re okay. That’s not bad at all.’

In the year of Elijah’s death, the family went on holiday to the Pembrokeshire coast, a place now inextricably linked to their son, and a place they see reflected in Hayes’ painting.

Jenny said, “When your baby dies, you come home with a little box instead of a lifetime of experiences. And so the painting connects the past with a new chapter in Elijah’s story.’

Jenny and James Halse, of Sheffield, turned to Repair Shop for help restoring a painting by 19th century artist Edwin Hayes with ties to their son, Elijah, who died in March 2013

Elijah, pictured, was born at 25 weeks and three days at Jessops Hospital, Sheffield.  Despite initially making good progress, Elijah died in hospital after contracting necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), a disease in which the tissue in the gut dies.

Elijah, pictured, was born at 25 weeks and three days at Jessops Hospital, Sheffield. Despite initially making good progress, Elijah died in hospital after contracting necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), a disease in which the tissue in the gut dies.

In the year of Elijah's death, the family went on holiday to the Pembrokeshire coast, a place now inextricably linked to their son, and a place they see reflected in Hayes' painting.  Pictured, the painting after the restoration by expert Lucia Scalisi

In the year of Elijah’s death, the family went on holiday to the Pembrokeshire coast, a place now inextricably linked to their son, and a place they see reflected in Hayes’ painting. Pictured, the painting after the restoration by expert Lucia Scalisi

Viewers praised the couple’s courage and resilience, with one tweet: ‘Omg what are you doing to me @TheRepairShop, was absolutely sobbing.

“Total admiration for those parents who have experienced such a tragedy and can talk about it so beautifully and calmly #therepairshop.”

Another wrote: ‘The story of Elijah’s painting. My heart is broken. #TheRepairShop.’

Elijah was born at 25 weeks and three days at Jessops Hospital, Sheffield.

“He had an incubator and then a ventilator to breathe for him,” James recalled.

Jenny continued, “I’ve waited 16 days for a good hug. It was amazing. He was perfect and miniature. Then he got really, really sick.

Jenny and James, who had two sons when Elijah was born and had a third, have returned to Pembrokeshire most years since.  Pictured, Elijah with his brothers

Jenny and James, who had two sons when Elijah was born and had a third, have returned to Pembrokeshire most years since. Pictured, Elijah with his brothers

Jenny waited 16 days before she could hold her son (pictured), describing him as

Jenny waited 16 days before she could hold her son (pictured), describing him as “perfect and miniature.” She spoke movingly about the life-changing experience of losing him

The family wanted the painting as a physical reminder of Elijah and as a symbol of the 'next stage' of his journey.  Pictured, Jenny and James with their sons and pictures of Elijah

The family wanted the painting as a physical reminder of Elijah and as a symbol of the ‘next stage’ of his journey. Pictured, Jenny and James with their sons and pictures of Elijah

“They operated on him and he stabilized, but his brain was damaged catastrophically. He would never save neonatal care.”

Despite initially making good progress, Elijah died in hospital after contracting necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), a disease in which the tissue in the gut dies.

Jenny and James, who had two sons when Elijah was born and had a third, have returned to Pembrokeshire for the most years since the loss of their child.

“It feels like an extra place where we belong,” Jenny said. “We have very special memories.

Before the restoration (photo), the painting had faded, with a streak of fungus in the air

Before the restoration (photo), the painting had faded, with a streak of fungus in the air

Painting expert Lucia Scalisi took on the challenge of restoration, returning the scene to its former glory and bringing out details originally hidden

Painting expert Lucia Scalisi took on the challenge of restoration, returning the scene to its former glory and bringing out details originally hidden

To add an extra layer of emotional weight, the painting was inherited from James’ grandparents, Alex and Eileen.

Painting expert Lucia Scalisi took on the challenge of restoration, returning the scene to its former glory and bringing out details that were originally hidden.

Jenny said, ‘It’s great. I can’t believe the sky, and the light on the water… How on earth did you do it? It’s absolutely beautiful. Thank you very much.’

Viewers praised the couple's courage and resilience and took to Twitter to share their support

Viewers praised the couple’s courage and resilience and took to Twitter to share their support

As he left the Repair Shop shed, James said, “It appeals to us in so many different ways. It’s unbelievable.’

Jenny added: “Leave the hospital and leave him behind. You come away with empty arms.

“To have something really special and meaningful that you can hold and own and really love is quite something. It’s really exceptional. Astonishing. I love it.’

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