Aromachildhood

Nursery temporarily shut down as toddler dies after 'choking'

A heartbroken father has spoken of his despair after his baby son died in his arms following a 'choking' incident at nursery.  

Nine-month-old Oliver Steeper died six days after being rushed to hospital over a 'medical emergency' at Jelly Beans Day Nursery in Ashford, Kent on September 23.  

Education watchdog Ofsted temporarily suspended the day care provider's licence over 'serious safeguarding concerns' in the wake of the incident.

An investigation is now set to be launched by the regulator following concerns that children may be 'exposed to a risk of harm'. 

Mourners left heart-warming tributes and flowers outside the nursery, as Oliver's devastated parents shared their memories of him in an emotional Facebook post. 

His father, Lewis Steeper wrote: 'Our baby boy, our world sadly lost his battle a short time ago and passed away peacefully in our arms. 

'We have been so blessed with him in our little family for the 9 months he was here, bringing us joy and happiness every second of the day.

'We both miss Oliver dearly and wish we could see his little beautiful smile and his voice again and would do anything to have that opportunity again just for one second.' 

Oliver reportedly choked while at Jelly Beans Day Nursery - which cares for babies as young as three months old - on September 23.

Nursery bosses wrote to inform parents about the tragic occurrence.  

Manager Debbie Alcock wrote in an email to parents: 'You will be aware that last week on Thursday we needed to ask for emergency services to attend the nursery due to a sudden and very unexpected medical need.

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'At present we do not know the cause.

'Myself and some of my staff were directly involved in assisting and due to the need for the parents' privacy and respect we still cannot give you any further information and in fact we have not been updated ourselves.

'Ofsted have made a decision to suspend our registration. This means that we cannot care for any child while the suspension is in place.'

A spokesperson for Jelly Beans Day Nursery said in a statement: 'Following a medical emergency at the Nursery involving a child on Thursday 23rd September, Ofsted served a notice of suspension of registration for a period of six weeks for the purposes of an investigation. 

'The nursery will remain closed for the period of the suspension. 

'We have been notified that the child who was subject to this medical incident has tragically died. We extend our deepest sympathies to the family who are in everyone’s thoughts.

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'Due to the ongoing investigations by the various agencies involved, we are unable at this time to make any further comment. We have been cooperating fully with all relevant authorities and will continue to do so.'

An online fundraiser, which described the youngster as a 'joy to everyone that knew him', has currently raised more than £9,000 for the grieving family. 

The tribute read: 'On 29th September, baby Oliver Steeper passed away peacefully in hospital after a short battle.

'Oliver was such a joy to everyone that knew him, with a cheeky little smile that you couldn't help but love. He will forever be remembered by his loving family.

'This fundraiser is for Zoe and Lewis, to bring them a little bit more time without added financial worries.'

Oliver's death comes five years after the nursery, then run by Ranc Care, came in for scathing criticism from Ofsted after an inspection found a toddler had been given an overdose of prescription medication. 

As a result, its Ofsted rating was downgraded from 'good' to 'inadequate'. A later inspection in 2018 restored its 'good' rating.

An Ofsted spokesperson said: 'We have suspended the nursery's registration due to serious safeguarding concerns. 

'It will remain closed while investigations continue.'  

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