I play for a very special football team. It’s not a team anybody wants to be part of, but once you join it’s a team you’ll never leave. All the members have one thing in common – they have lost a child. We play with the name of our child on our shirts, above our hearts. I had the honour of captaining this team on Sunday. Not because I am any good, but because the game was played close to the anniversary of losing our daughter Eleni 11 years ago. Ex professionals and celebrities were our opposition and in truth we were well beaten on the pitch. Score was irrelevant, but we scored once. A penalty in the last minute that was given to me as captain for the day. It felt like the most important kick I have ever made. It was for me, for my teammates, for Eleni and every baby gone too early. If you know any dads affected by baby loss tell them they are not alone. Tell them about SANDS United – more than just a football team. https://www.facebook.com/SandsUtdLondonNick Maniatakis – West London Sands Dad
Congratulations and heartfelt thanks to local parents Jess and Rahul. Last year Rahul ran 1992km including two marathons in Paris and Berlin for Sands and the Brain Research Trust. Rahul and Jess lost their son in 2013 and wanted to do something to raise awareness and funding for Sands research and practical support. They raised over £2000 for Sands and £1344.83 of this for West London Sands. This has helped us, amongst other things, to furnish the new Bereavement suite at Northwick Park hospital which officially opens on Wednesday 12 September 2018.
Read more from Rahul:
“When we lost our son in 2013, I would never have guessed how much he would have taught us in his short life and death. We felt the profound compassion of the staff who cared for my wife and son and saw their efforts to repurpose our room from one to welcome life to a gateway to limbo and healing. Sands and its members helped us grieve, and grow.”
“As time progressed, we wanted to give back to that community. My wife helped bring Northwick Park and Sands together and we supported training events. Three years on, I wanted to do something to raise awareness and funding for Sands’ research and practical support. So I decided to run a marathon. I ran for Sands and the Brain Research Trust. I enjoyed sharing the journey leading to the marathons with new and old friends. For some, it gave a first outlet to recognise or discuss what happened. The marathons ended up, in truth, being just certificates for the running I did over 20 months. And each of those hundreds of runs were powered by my love unspent, and the love I had received.”
West London Sands Befriender, Karen and her husband Angus, recently donated a cuddle cot to Queen Charlotte’s and Chelsea Hospital in memory of their son Rory, born on 5 December 1998, for his 20th anniversary this year. The cuddle cot will give parents an opportunity to spend as much time as possible with their babies in the room with them. This is something Karen and Angus never had and would have loved.
After many months of hard work, the Myrtle Suite at Northwick Park Hospital was opened on Wednesday 12th September. The opening ceremony was performed by Rakhee Thakrar, actress and Sands Ambassador.
Marva Wilson, Bereavement Midwife, paid a special tribute to West London Sands for all the help and support, both practical and financial, that they have given in helping to create the Suite. She said that, having come across West London Sands seven years ago, she now has a new definition of the meaning of “support” which was simply “a combination of Paula, Karen, and Lynn!” Lynn commented that all the funds contributed to the Myrtle suite were a result of the fund-raising efforts of our parents, two of whom were there for the opening.
Located in a quiet area of the maternity ward, the room is decorated neutrally to keep it light and it offers a tranquil, private place for parents to grieve in comfort with their immediate family. There is a sofa, an ensuite bathroom, kitchen area with tea and coffee-making facilities and a television.
From the pictures you will see just how much care and thought has gone into creating this space for parents, where they will be able to spend time and create memories of their precious baby.
A huge congratulations to one of our parents Nick who has run the 2017 London Marathon for Sands in a very impressive time of 4 hours 6 minutes. Nick ran the marathon in honour of his daughter Ella, who was very sadly stillborn at full term on 10th September 2015.
Nick has raised a staggering £50,000 making him the events second biggest fundraiser.
Here are some photos of Nick, his wife Laura and their family and friends on the big day:
West London Sands has dedicated a leaf on the memorial tree at Mortlake Crematorium to remember all the babies of our West London Sands parents.
West London Sands would like to thank parents for their fundraising and donations. Your kind donations have gone towards funding a quiet room for families in the antenatal clinic at Hillingdon Hospital.
Here are some photos of the newly decorated room and our chairwoman Lynn officially opening it.
West London Sands recently funded smart new sofa-beds for Hillingdon and Northwick Park Hospitals – thanks to the fund-raising efforts of our parents.
Here is the sofa-bed for Hillingdon’s delivery room:
And here is the Northwick Park sofa-bed, a vibrant colour specially chosen as the room is very dark:
West London Sands recently funded two new recliner chairs for Queen Charlotte’s and Chelsea Hospital.
West London Sands (WLS), part of the national Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Charity, has received a generous donation of £4,444 from Mortlake Crematorium.
WLS helps bereaved parents in the West London area, their families and their friends. They have trained volunteer Befrienders who can offer support over the phone and online, and through monthly group meetings. They also work closely with local hospitals, providing both specialised bereavement training and financial help to improve maternity facilities.
Mortlake Crematorium is very supportive of the work done by West London Sands and has also developed a lovely new children’s garden on site, which is where representatives of both organisations met for the celebratory handing over of the cheque
“We are extremely grateful to the Mortlake Crematorium for making this generous donation to West London Sands,” said Lynn Lacey, Chair, WLS. “It will help us to continue our work of helping bereaved parents, promoting staff training and supporting our local hospitals.”
“We have been aware for some time of the great work that WLS do in helping families who have suffered the loss of a baby,” said Natasha Bradshaw, Superintendent and Registrar at Mortlake. “We were keen to donate to a local charity and it was particularly fitting to hand over the cheque in our new children’s garden.”
The Waterbugs and Dragonflies Babies and Children’s Memorial Garden at Mortlake was completed in November 2015 and is dedicated to the memory of babies and children. The garden is based on the children’s story “Water bugs and Dragonflies” by Doris Stickley. WLS parent, Candace Moses, said: “The garden is a lovely tranquil space for bereaved parents.” There is a sculptured memorial tree where a leaf can be dedicated to remember a baby or child.
From left Karen, Paula, Candace, Natasha, Ruth and Lynn – all WLS committee members, apart from Natasha (Mortlake) and Candace, who is a WLS parent.
The Waterbugs and Dragonflies Babies and Children’s Memorial Garden