Parents who lost baby girl at 24 weeks pregnant raises thousands for hospital bereavement suite
PUBLISHED: 07:58 22 September 2019 | UPDATED: 15:24 22 September 2019
It is a heartbreaking scenario that no parent should have to go through.
But back in April, when Ashleigh Hunt was told at 24 weeks and five days pregnant that her baby girl no longer had a heartbeat - that became her and her husband Jason's reality.
Now, the 27-year-old of Swan Road, in Dereham, has vowed to help other families who have experienced the same pain.
Launched shortly after the loss of their daughter, Maddison's Movement was created with the aim of breaking down the stigma surrounding baby loss - as Mrs Hunt explained.
"One of the most obvious things for us to do was to keep Maddison's memory alive by helping others," she said.
"About a month after losing her, we found ourselves asking so many questions as any parent following the loss of a baby would.
"One of those questions was how can we possibly parent a child that is no longer here? Our love for her is unconditional and we want to be proud of her existence the same way we would have, had things turned out differently."
As well as highlighting the importance of monitoring the movements of a baby during pregnancy, the couple decided to get involved with the Baby Bereavement Appeal at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (N&N).
The appeal was set up to help families who have suffered baby loss and also to create a specific bereavement room on the delivery unit.
Mrs Hunt added: "Our story reached hundreds of people in a very short space of time because so many couples have experienced the loss of a baby, whether it be through miscarriage, stillbirth or neonatal death. And if they haven't experienced it themselves, you can guarantee they know of someone close to them that has.
"More often than not, parents usually blame themselves and conceal their grief for fear of shame or embarrassment which creates a society that shy's away from talking openly about their baby they still love and care so much for."
Mrs Hunt said they had been "blown away" by the response they received after sharing their story at the end of June.
In just under three months, they have raised nearly £10,000 via a Just Giving page, a skydive, and an outdoor cinema screening, receiving support from local businesses and individuals across the county.
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The money has gone towards the construction of a new private bereavement suite at the N&N to safely labour, deliver, and for parents to spend precious moments with their child.
Any future funds raised will help ongoing projects and support services for the hospital's Baby Bereavement Services, including creating memory boxes, keepsakes, premature baby clothing, and books.
The suite is currently undergoing final checks with the aim of being open by November 2019.
Mrs Hunt said: "The key difference that this will make to future couples is proving to them that they are not alone because the hospital is set up to cater for their loss, as devastating as it feels."
Fathers feel loss too - Dads Matter Football Tournament
On Sunday, September 22 (today) a charity 5-a-side football tournament is being held at the FDC in Bowthorpe, Norwich, with kick-off at 10am before celebrations from 4.30pm at The Railway Tavern in Dereham for food and drinks with live music from Danstar.
There will also be a raffle on the night including donations from Phillip Browne Menswear, restaurants such as Turtle Bay and The Lodge, as well as a hamper put together by Dereham Leisure Centre including a Suunto 3 fitness watch.
Maddison's father Jason Hunt and close friend and event organiser Joel Brien, will be auctioning off a signed Norwich City Football Club shirt and a pair of boots signed by midfielder and local Dereham lad, Todd Cantwell.
Mrs Hunt said: "The reason behind this event is to raise awareness of the impact that the loss of a baby has on fathers.
"The pressure on men to return back to work, support the mother and move forward quicker is huge and whilst many men wish to use this as a tool for distraction, they are often suffering in silence when it comes to grieving their child.
"Therefore this matter deserves an event of its own in the hope that men too will be approached and considered in the painful stages that follow such loss, so please come along and show your support."