Gordon and Sarah Brown have told how the tragic death of their baby daughter 15 years ago helped save the life of the grandchild of former Labour leader John Smith.

The former British Prime Minister and his wife helped set up a research laboratory in Edinburgh after their premature daughter Jennifer, died aged just 10 days, in 2002.

Smith's daughter Catherine Smith, 43, revealed work carried out at the lab "impacted directly" on the care given to her daughter Ella McConnachie and "improved her chance of survival" after she was born at 28 weeks weighing just 1lb 10oz. She is now aged 2.

Brown described Catherine's father as "my friend, my colleague, my mentor", saying that even 23 years after his death the politician is still "sorely missed".


Fifteen years after Jennifer's death, he said he and his wife are "so proud" to see what has been achieved by staff at the Jennifer Brown Research Laboratory (JBRL) at the University of Edinburgh.

He said: "Sarah and I never had the joy of experiencing Jennifer taking her first steps, or speaking her first words, or going to school for the first time.

"But we have realised that after 15 years, out of tragedy some good can come."

Sarah Brown said: "It's extraordinarily important to know that Ella has survived and thrived, she is an amazing, bouncy fully healthy little girl. That's what you want every baby to have the opportunity to be."