Photograph: MAVERICK PHOTO AGENCY
An Earlston family who kick-started an extensive, ongoing series of fundraising activities – inspiring their friends, peers and the local community to join in – recently launched the product of their collective hard work at a Scottish Parliament event celebrating the work of Children’s Hospices Across Scotland (better known as CHAS).

Marie and Keith Briggs (both 36) have now raised over £15,000 to fund ‘Joe’s Toes’, a memory-making project devised in conjunction with CHAS for parents who are dealing with the loss of a child.

In recognition of their endeavour, the family won Tommy’s ‘Inspirational Family of the Year’ this summer. As their last fundraiser of the year, they participated in Dalkeith Country Park’s Santa Run this December.

Marie said: “2019 has been a fantastic first year for Joe’s Toes and we cannot thank everyone enough for their generosity. This year we have seen everything from a 100-mile challenge to a head shave, from multiple half marathons to bingo bonanzas. We are astounded by the support shown to us by our local community and further afield. Our loss of Joe has sparked a fire in everyone to help and we have raised over £12,000!

“We hope everyone knows the difference this will make to bereaved and soon to bereaved parents in their darkest hours. Every donation makes all the difference in helping provide this service to a family in need.

“Thank you, everyone, for your kindness. We wish you a very merry Christmas and a prosperous new year!”

Sarah Dannfald, Community Fundraiser for CHAS said:

“We are so thankful to the Briggs family for all their fundraising efforts for CHAS, to help us provide even more families with those precious special memories that will stay with them forever.

“Marie and Keith have inspired so many of their friends, family and neighbours to join them and to date, they have raised over £15,500 in memory of Joe. For that, we are so grateful and will allow us to provide over 350 families with the opportunity to make 3D casts of their child’s hand or foot, and display it beautifully in the Joe’s Toes Box.”

Background

Keith and Marie welcomed identical twin boys to the world, eight weeks early in February 2018. Thomas (Tommy) was born shortly after Joseph (Joe) Briggs who was sadly stillborn as a result of twin to twin transfusion syndrome.

Tommy spent five weeks in hospital and was cared for both in the Special Care Baby Unit in Borders General Hospital and Simpsons Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at the Royal Infirmary in Edinburgh. Tommy spent a total of five weeks in hospital before being well enough to be discharged home.

Driven to help fellow families coping with similar loss, Marie and Keith are now collaborating with CHAS on a memory-making project called ‘Joes Toes’ in honour of their baby boy. Their social media groups have subsequently drawn in a great deal of public support.

The funds raised for Joe’s Toes will allow CHAS to purchase the materials required to make baby hand and foot-casts, as well as special boxes to house them in, respectfully done in Joe’s name. This type of memory-making has generally been offered by CHAS within the Hospice, however taking it into the Neonatal Unit is pioneering work, providing another opportunity for parents to make precious lasting memories following the death of their baby.

So far, the Briggs family’s fundraising group has tackled the Tour de Lauder 89 mile cycling challenge (with an extra 11 miles added on to make it to Borders General Hospital), the Edinburgh half marathon, Gateshead 10k with the Great North Run, Loch Ness Marathon and many more physically arduous events. They have so far raised an astounding £15,500, more than trebling the initial £5,000 target they set themselves.

Anyone wishing to sponsor the project can do so via their Everyday Hero page at https://give.everydayhero.com/uk/joe-s-toes