Riley launches a new beginning

Joseph Bulmer

A TINY face which looks down on Bideford’s newest public bar marks a tragic story – and highlights a new beginning.

It is a picture of little Riley Isaac, who died last September at just 10 months old.

After the trauma of the past year his parents Richard and Ann Isaac on New Year’s Eve launched what they hope will be a new and happier chapter in their lives with the opening of Riley’s Bar, named after their son, in part of the Bideford Royal British Legion premises in the High Street.

They have taken over the lease of the bar, formerly known as Night Owls,

with little Riley looking down on the new venture through two framed pictures above the bar.

Ann told the Gazette how scans during her pregnancy had revealed problems with Riley’s heart and kidneys and also the possibility that he could be a Down’s Syndrome baby.

There was an opportunity for an abortion, but she had turned this down, she said.

Monthly appointments followed at St Michael’s Hospital in Bristol before Riley was born there on November 24, 2009.

“He was like a little miracle, he came out breathing and I was able to cuddle him, which was something they thought at first I would not be able to do,” said Ann.

“Scans and surveys confirmed his heart and kidney problems. But he was like a normal baby and able to take a bottle. I was able to take him home, but told that he would need surgery. Tests for Down’s Syndrome came back clear.

“Just before Christmas 2009 he had a bad turn and we went to the hospital in Barnstaple. I was told his heart was going into failure and the Bristol Children’s Hospital sent a team down and took him back there and into intensive care. He came through an operation and was back on the heart ward in time to see Santa. We were back home again that New Year’s Eve.”

But within four weeks Riley was poorly again and back in Bristol. This was to become a familiar pattern as over the next six months the family were regular visitors to both Bristol and Barnstaple hospitals as Riley picked up many infections.

Three good months followed, but last September Riley suffered respiratory failure and was again transferred from Barnstaple to Bristol hospital.

“We were asked to leave when they had to insert a tube to help his breathing,” said Ann. “Then they came out and said that his blood pressure had dropped and his heart had stopped. They tried everything, but there was nothing they could do.

“We still don’t know why he died. There was an autopsy and they said it was not his heart that caused his death. They are still trying to find out what was so different this time to all his other infections.”

Ann, 25, and Richard, 26, previously ran another bar in Barnstaple, but with all the problems of last year and all the bad memories they had decided to make a fresh start in Bideford, said Ann.

Features in Riley’s Bar are a Sunday draw and a gaming machine, both of which are being used to raise money for the Bristol Children’s Hospital and the Royal British Legion.

“They are such amazing doctors and nurses in Bristol and in Barnstaple,” said Ann.