Watton father to walk from Dereham to Cromer for Hana’s Gift charity and Alzheimer’s Society

A Norfolk chartered accountant is preparing for an emotional walk inspired by the loss of his stillborn daughter and seeing his grandfather suffer with Alzheimer's disease.

Ben Aldridge, 28, of Blenheim Way, Watton, will be walking 40 miles from the Larking Gowen office in Dereham - where he works - to the company's Cromer office on June 1.

His daughter, Freya Aldridge, was stillborn on June 1, 2009 at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH) and was buried at the nearby Colney Burial Ground on June 17.

Money raised from the fund-raiser will be split equally between Hana's Gift, a Norfolk charity which supports bereaved parents whose children have died shortly after birth or are stillborn, and the Alzheimer's Society.

Hana's Gift was launched at the start of last year by Karen Murray-Tye, 33, of Aylsham, in memory of her daughter Hana who was stillborn on January 12, 2006.

Ben's grandad, William Landsdale, who is in his 80s, lives near Taverham and has Alzheimer's.

He is cared for by his wife Dorothy, also in her 80s, and has 'gone downhill dramatically' in the past year according to Ben's wife Jemma.

Most Read

She added: 'It is soul-destroying to see him (William) disappearing day by day. It is such a shame because you don't realise how badly it affects people until it happens to a friend or relative. Ben gets so upset and emotional about it.'

Willam used to be in the RAF and was a 'proper little firecracker', Jemma said.

Jemma, 26, a full time mother who grew up in Watton, fell pregnant with Freya at the start of 2009 and was due to be born on September 21.

But on May 29, 2009 - while Jemma was at work at the Little Owls Day Nursery in Dereham - she started to experience stomach pains.

A day later, after having a series of tests at the NNUH, she discovered her baby had died in the womb.

Jemma was induced on June 1 at the NNUH and gave birth to Freya, who weighed just one pound, at 9.45pm.

'I was excited to see her little face,' she said. 'I knew she was going to be dead but I didn't accept it until I held her. When I got up and looked in the mirror that was when I realised I had lost something. I think about her every second of the day.'

Freya was buried in a pink outfit with a picture of Jemma holding her and a necklace, which has a heart shaped pendant with the word daughter engraved on it. Jemma has a matching necklace with the word mum engraved on the heart.

'I bought dolls clothes from Toys R Us because I knew she was going to be so small,' Jemma added.

She said: 'I really admire what Karen (founder of Hana's Gift) is doing. She is so strong and it would be lovely to give a little bit back.'

Karen said: 'I really appreciate what Ben is doing and I was really touched when we found out he wanted to raise money for Hana's Gift.'

Jemma and Ben put Jemma's bouquet of pink gerberas on Freya's grave every two weeks.

Each year the family mark her birthday by meeting at her grave and spending the day together, but this year they plan to wait for Ben at the Cromer Larking Gowen office.

Jemma fell pregnant just six weeks after losing Freya and Lilly, who is nearly two, was born on March 31, 2010.

She said: 'I don't think she (Lilly) realises she saved my life.'

To donate money for Ben's 40 mile walk visit www.facebook.com/Bensnorthernregiontrek or ring Jemma on 07540 452337.

A diner dance to raise funds for Hana's Gift will be taking place on Saturday, May 19 from 7pm at Drayton Old Lodge, in Drayton High Road.

Tickets cost �45 which will pay for a three course meal, a welcome drink and canap�s, a disco and a performance by a comedian and magician.

For more information about the charity and the fundraiser ring Karen on 07788 297984 or email karen@hanasgift.com

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter