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The Harper-Lee Foundation

Who are we?

The Harper-Lee Foundation was set up to carry forward and expand the work of the Harper-Lee’s Law Campaign, providing a lasting legacy following the death of Harper-Lee Fanthorpe. We will work with government, manufacturers, retailers, educators, charities and health professionals to reduce the risk to children of accidents and death from foreign body ingestion such as button and coin battery ingestion. 

The object of the Charity is:

To preserve and protect the health of children and young people and by extension their families and carers at risk of accident, injury or death caused by foreign body ingestion such as button and coin battery ingestion, in particular by:

  • The provision of seminars and workshops to educate health professionals more specifically and the public, retailers and manufacturers more generally about the dangers of foreign body ingestion.
  • The provision of a support group to families who have suffered loss as a result of foreign body ingestion as a means of addressing their trauma and bereavement.
  • The collection and analysis of data on accidents, injuries and deaths to help inform research that will contribute towards understandings of and treatments for foreign body ingestion.

Harper-Lee Fanthorpe

Who is Harper-Lee?

Harper-Lee Fanthorpe, 2, died after swallowing a button battery from a remote control. Harper-Lee was a happy, funny toddler who loved to sing and dance. On that fateful Sunday morning, she had watched her favourite Peppa Pig on television, then rubbed her eyes to show she was tired. Stacy lay her on the bed and left for work – just up the road. Two hours later, daughter Jamie rang to say something was terribly wrong. She had called an ambulance and Stacy rushed home to see Harper-Lee covered in blood. Initially, the doctors thought it was a burst tonsil, but the internal injuries pointed to the fact that she had swallowed a button battery that had burnt through her oesophagus.

At 10.17 that evening, Harper-Lee passed away in Children’s Intensive Care at the Royal Stoke Hospital. Stacy recalls Harper-Lee’s last words “Mummy I need you”, and Stacey said she loved her and would see her soon. Stacy is an incredibly brave mother who wants to ensure that what she and her family are going through does not happen to other families. 

Jo Gideon

Message from our Chairman

Harper-Lee lost her life as a result of swallowing a button battery. In the weeks that followed the toddler’s tragic death, Stacy, her incredibly brave mother started the Harper-Lee’s Law Campaign. Stacy wanted to make sure that what she and her family have gone through did not happen to other families. She has the support of the local newspaper, the Sentinel, and myself as the local Member-of Parliament. In that capacity I initiated a Private Members’ Bill in Parliament on the Safety of Button Batteries, and began discussing the issue with a wide variety of organisations.

The Harper-Lee Foundation is a registered charity, which enables us to expand on the work of the campaign and raise funds to provide a single point of contact for agencies working on this agenda, to commission research, support educational campaigns and provide advice and support for families.

Jo Gideon

Chairman of Trustees

Watch Video

Watch Video

Why are button batteries dangerous?

Button batteries are small, round, silver-coloured batteries that come in many different sizes and types. They power many of our devices at home to make our lives more convenient.

Most button batteries pass through the body without a problem. But if a lithium coin cell battery gets stuck in the food pipe, energy from the battery reacts with saliva to create caustic soda. This is the same chemical used to unblock drains!

This can burn through the food pipe, to the main artery and lead to catastrophic internal bleeding and death. The chemical reaction can happen in as little as two hours. However, sometimes it takes days or even weeks.

Lithium coin cell batteries can also cause life-changing injuries. There is a risk that the food pipe is too badly damaged for a child to eat normally again or the vocal cords are too badly damaged for a child to speak normally again.

Click on the video button to the left to watch a video by the Child Accident Prevention Trust which shows the harm a button battery can cause.