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Couple’s fundraising challenges for ‘exemplary’ Forget Me Not Suite

A fundraising couple have completed seven challenges for the Forget Me Not Suite at University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust (UHNM) in memory of their son who was born sleeping at 29 weeks.

Laura Swinscoe and husband Rich wanted to thank the staff who cared for them and their son Cub.

Their challenges, which included the Yorkshire Three Peaks, a Snowdon hike and Rich cycling from Lands End to John O’Groats raised £4,185 for the Suite, and were completed in time for what would have been Cub’s first birthday.

Laura, an Advanced Physiotherapist in the Critical Care Unit has worked at UHNM for 12 years but never knew the Suite existed.

 She said: “Our son Cub was born sleeping on 16 July 2022 weighing 3lb at just 29 weeks old. Our care on the Forget Me Not Suite was exemplary and compassionate and gave us a comfortable, quiet environment away from the main busy maternity ward. The team of specialist bereavement midwives were caring and thoughtful throughout our stay of two and a half days. They were very patient when discussing the difficult decisions we were having to make and provided a lot of support surrounding this. Each member of staff took time to fully explain the process and went above and beyond in showing their compassion to our particular situation and tried to make us both as comfortable as possible at all times.”

“We felt fundraising for the Suite through UHNM Charity was a fitting way to say thank you to the staff who had helped care for us and Cub. We know we unfortunately can’t prevent other families from experiencing baby loss, but we wanted to give something back to the service so those that follow could have as positive experience as possible. It was also a way of us using our situation to raise the profile of the essential service, and generally raise awareness surrounding baby loss, as it is a subject that is often not openly discussed.”

“We chose these walking and cycling activities, as they are already things we love to do, but we wanted to ‘take it to another level’ by pushing the distances and physicality of them. We are both big advocates for being outside in nature and using exercise in the outdoors as an essential aspect of mental and physical health. Part of our healing process was completing these challenges.”

Laura and Rich completed their seven challenges between April and August, taking Cub’s ashes along with them for each challenge:

15 April: Laura and Rich walked the length of Wenlock Edge in Shropshire, walking 20 miles in 7.5 hours
6 - 7 May: Along with a friend, Rich cycled the entire length of a very wet Wales. Starting in the south in Newport and finishing in Llandudno, they covered 188 miles with over 17,200 feet of climbing
21 May: Laura and two friends walked the length of the High Peak Trail in the Peak District, totalling 17 miles
10 June: Laura and two friends walked a very hilly 10 miles around Edale and the start of the Pennine Way in the Peak District.
24 June - 2 July: Rich and a friend cycled the length of the UK completing Lands End to John O’Groats over nine days. Covering a total of 1002 miles with no punchers!
16 July (On the one-year anniversary of Cubs birth): Laura and Rich hiked up a wet and windy Snowdon, completing the nine-mile Lanberis track
19 August: Laura and Rich finished their challenges by completing the Yorkshire Three Peaks challenge, covering 25 miles in ten and a half hours

Laura and Rich’s fundraising was also generously supported by Cannock Ladies’ Hockey Club Second Team, who completed RED January raising £1,150.

Speaking about her challenges, Laura said: “Ultimately, with having Cub with us throughout, there was never any doubt we would complete them all, although we will admit they were quite physical at times! We are still quite overwhelmed with the support of our friends and family throughout the challenges and how much we have managed to raise in a short period of time.”

“We are proud that we have hopefully made a positive contribution to a much needed part of the service and are motivated to do more, and continue to raise awareness of the service and baby loss in general to help try and support families in a similar situation to ourselves.”

“We also feel with what would have been Cub’s first birthday on 3 October, it was a positive thing to finish the challenges and donate the money before this date to continue to help us move forward from our loss, and continue to keep Cub’s memory alive.”

Rich added: “Our fundraising doesn’t even come close to how we feel about what the staff on the Forget Me Not Suite did for us and do for a lot of people. What they do is incredible at a point where some people wouldn’t know where to turn to.”

Sarah Lake, Bereavement Specialist Midwife said: “I think Laura and Rich’s achievements for the benefit and support of other parents who use the service is incredible and very brave."

"Working with UHNM Charity, we are looking to create a contemplation garden as an area of remembrance at Royal Stoke, and their funds will go towards this. Many parents who suffer the loss of a baby associate their baby with their time at UHNM and whilst grief is individual, having a dedicated area of remembrance on site shows every baby that we have the privilege of caring for is remembered.”

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