I contacted Sands back in 1993 following the stillbirth of my son and, following the birth of my daughter in 1996, I became a befriender. I am a befriender and Treasurer for Northamptonshire Sands. I am motivated to stay involved and help support parents as, unless you have experienced the loss yourself, nobody knows how devastating that loss is.
There is not one single thing that I am most proud about, but many things that Northamptonshire Sands has achieved in particular – the creation of two snowdrop rooms with garden space, giving parents that much-needed space to grieve and also create memories. Our Christmas Tree service started in 1999 with 20 parents standing in the cemetery singing carols to now having over 400 parents and families come and join us and hang a decoration on the Christmas tree in memory of their baby.”
Rose Abrehart, East Network Coordinator, said: “Viv and Maggie have both been involved with Sands for nearly 20 years and together they are the reason that Northamptonshire Sands is such a vibrant and successful group. Viv has been Treasurer for the Group. This is no mean feat for a Group that receives and uses so much funding so professionally and appropriately on huge projects that would be daunting to big companies let alone a voluntary sector organisation. Viv’s accounts are ALWAYS in on time, often throughout personally challenging situations, and always totally accurate.
In the years they have run Northamptonshire Sands the Group has got bigger and bigger, providing support to hundreds of parents. They have helped provide bereavement suites at Northampton Hospital and Kettering Hospital (Snowdrop Rooms), they have provided memorial gardens at both sites, and a memorial garden in Northampton.
Northamptonshire Sands offer regular monthly meetings, support to a Next Pregnancy Group, a dedicated Dads’ Group, and just recently a football team set up by and for dads is down to the inspirational example that Viv and Maggie show to the parents they have supported. This has encouraged these parents to train as Befrienders, support Sands, support other parents and has led to the start of the different strands of support Northamptonshire Sands offers. Their Annual Memorial Service attracts several hundred people. The feedback received about Viv and Maggie at the training they have provided to local hospitals is always amazing quoting them as ‘warm and compassionate ladies who made the whole subject of baby loss less scary and helped us to understand how we can help parents.’
The professionalism and success of Northamptonshire Sands is a HUGE testament to the dedication and commitment these two amazing ladies have given to Sands over many years. As Network Coordinator I am incredibly proud to work alongside these two ladies and count them as colleagues. I am humbled by what they have and continue to achieve year on year. THANK YOU.”
Viv has been nominated as part of 40 volunteers for #Sands40. Join them at Sands 40th Anniversary Conference on 17th November 2018 in Glasgow.
Sands is marking its 40th anniversary this year and we would like to say thank you for the incredible support and contribution that our dedicated volunteers make across the UK to support bereaved parents and anyone affected by the death of a baby.
We will be hosting an awards ceremony during the Sands 40th Anniversary Conference to celebrate the wide range of volunteering involvement in Sands and acknowledge 40 volunteers for their dedication and commitment.