Tuesday, 17 May 2022
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Tuesday, 17 May 2022

Families unite to donate the gift of time to bereaved parents

PARENTS who tragically lose a child will now be able to spend precious time with their loved ones following a donation from charity 4Louis.

The national baby loss charity has donated a cuddle cot and a cuddle blanket to The Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust’s Urgent and Emergency Care Centre (UECC). The resources will be used to keep a child cool, either in a Moses basket or with a special blanket, to allow their family to spend time together to make memories and to say goodbye.

The donation was possible thanks to two incredible families who fundraised for 4Louis in memory of their children.

Harry and Katie Smith’s baby Freddie was sadly stillborn at Rotherham Hospital in September 2021. Harry’s brother-in-law Matt Taylor, 38, of Gloucester, spearheaded their fundraising by doing a sponsored beard shave, raising £3,200.

Katie, 25, of Brecks in Rotherham, said: “Until you’ve experienced the loss of a baby or child, you don’t know equipment like this exists but we are grateful that it does. It gave us precious time with Freddie to hold him, to make memories, take photos, introduce him to our families and feel like his parents. Without the cuddle cot, he would have been taken away after just a few hours.

“The donation is bittersweet for us. We hope that the cuddle cot will never need to be used but knowing that families can have the time that we had with Freddie is comforting. We’re really proud to have raised so much for 4Louis.”

Gavin and Amber Langley, from Sunderland, were devastated when their 23-month-old son Travis died unexpectedly in August 2021, 10 days before his second birthday. The couple raised £7,000 in memory of the youngster by selling candles.

They still receive support from 4Louis and have become volunteers for the charity to help others deal with the loss of a child.

Amber, 30, said: “We have donated a cuddle cot to our local hospital in Sunderland but when it came to deciding where to donate the cuddle blanket we asked 4Louis which hospital had been waiting the longest. Rotherham Hospital was top of the list, which felt perfect for us as we have family living in the town.”

Gavin, 34, added: “When Travis passed away, I was working in Germany installing security systems in DHL’s freight distribution centre in Leipzig. It became a race against time in the most horrific of circumstances to get home to be with my son and wife. I just wanted to be able to see him and to hold him before he was taken to the mortuary.

“It really was hell but the hospital had a cuddle blanket which helped time to stand still until I could get there. I was only able to be with him for two hours before he was taken away but that was precious time I wouldn’t have got without the cuddle blanket.

“We think all hospitals should have a cuddle blanket or a cot. We don’t know if the new machine will be turned on today, tomorrow or sometime in the future, but we wish that it would never need to be used at all. We’re thinking about the families who might tragically be in our position and we want to do what we can to help them.”

The resources from 4Louis were accepted by the Rotherham Hospital and Community Charity at a special meet and greet at Rotherham Hospital on 2 March 2022.

Bob McGurrell is 4Louis’ CEO and grandfather to baby Louis Knight, who inspired his family to set up the charity after he was stillborn at Rotherham Hospital in 2009.

The charity provides free memory boxes, cameras, equipment and training to hospitals, hospices and other professionals who comfort grieving families who suffer a miscarriage, stillbirth neonatal or child death.

“We know from the families we support, just how important the cuddle blankets and cots are,” he said.

“We are grateful to both families for fundraising for the equipment. We know it hasn’t been easy and handing them over today is incredibly emotional. It will be a real asset to Rotherham Hospital, which is a place close to our hearts too. It will help Travis and Freddie’s memory to live on and will bring some comfort to families in the darkest of times.”

Rachel Holland, Paediatric Sister for the UECC, arranged the visit to thank 4Louis and the families for their donation. The Trust already owns two cuddle cots, which are used in the Purple Butterfly room on the Labour Ward and in the UECC’s paediatric area.

She said: “This is an incredibly special donation for our team. We are passionate about the care we provide, particularly to children and families during bereavement.  When 4Louis contacted me to say not one, but two families had chosen to donate to our department, I cried! We’ve been on 4Louis’ waiting list for a cuddle blanket since 2019.

“The cuddle blanket will allow us to offer the same personalised care to older children up to the age of 18, as we do for infants who sadly passed away in the UECC.

“Harry and Katie’s cuddle cot donation is equally special. Freddie’s memory will live on through the work that we do and I hope his parents will feel comforted knowing they are helping other families at the same Trust who helped them.

“It will be humbling knowing we can give this care in memory of Freddie and Travis. We wish we never had to use these special gifts, but when we do, they make such a difference to the time families can spend with their loved ones and help us to enhance the compassionate care we provide in the most difficult of circumstances.”

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