Rothwell family’s fundraising efforts for KGH

Charity officer Maxine Andrews, Rowan Smith, five, mum Gemma Smith, Eilish Smith, seven, and Bereavement Midwife Stephanie Fretter
Charity officer Maxine Andrews, Rowan Smith, five, mum Gemma Smith, Eilish Smith, seven, and Bereavement Midwife Stephanie Fretter

A mum who lost her first two children during pregnancy has raised more than £3,000 for KGH – with a little help from a lot of people!

Gemma Smith, of Rothwell, organised a memorial sporting event where more than 200 people raised money for the hospital’s labour ward.

Charity officer Maxine Andrews, Rowan Smith, five, mum Gemma Smith, Eilish Smith, seven, and Bereavement Midwife Stephanie Fretter

Charity officer Maxine Andrews, Rowan Smith, five, mum Gemma Smith, Eilish Smith, seven, and Bereavement Midwife Stephanie Fretter

Gemma, her husband Ian, and daughters Rowan, five, and Eilish, seven, have all been involved in the event they have called 10 for Jacob which took place throughout August and raised £3,166.

Jacob Smith died in August 2007 of severe gastroschisis – a birth defect of the abdominal wall at 21 weeks gestation.

Gemma also lost her daughter Eden in August 2008 at 25 weeks when she developed a ruptured appendix with peritonitis during her pregnancy.

Gemma and her family wanted to do something positive in memory of Jacob and Eden and to support Kettering General Hospital where the family had their bereavement care.

Mental health social worker Gemma, 37, said: “August was the 10th anniversary of Jacob’s death and this year we wanted to do something positive in his memory and came up with the idea of 10 for Jacob.

“The idea was to pay £10 to enter and to do 10 of something sporty for the event, with everyone receiving a bespoke giraffe medal as a thank you.

“For some that meant running 10km or 10 miles and our family and friends came up with lots of ideas of other things they could do that fitted in with the theme.”

These included:

Tom Hargraves did 10 back flips for Jacob while his sister Lucy completed 10 push up on a paddle board off the Tynemouth Coastline.

David Fitzjohn (and four friends) played 10 hours of golf at the Peterborough Golf course – and just squeezed in three full 18 hole rounds with 4 minutes to spare, raising £340.

Ten local runners ran 10 times up Rockingham Hill in Corby with a total distance of 15 miles completed.

Martyn Flynn ran 10 miles a day for 10 consecutive days. His wife and two young children also took part in events and raised £115.

Events ended up taking place abroad as well as the UK with a 10,000 steps being walked for 10 days by Paula Billington in Northern Ireland and runs even being completed in Tenerife and Cyprus.

Gemma ran 100km herself and took part in several of the fundraising events.

Her seven-year-old daughter Eilish also ran 10 one-mile runs in 10 days, culminating with her first Park Run.

National Paper Recycling in Pilot Road, Corby, kindly sponsored the first 100 medals for the event to ensure 100 per cent of every donation went to the hospital.

Gemma said: “The event was my way of honouring my children and creating a positive legacy from the most difficult period of my life.

“The staff at KGH were a great support and in turn I hope this will enable them to continue with providing great care to parents who find themselves coping with the unexpended loss of their babies.

“The money we raised will buy an additional £2,000 cold cot for the maternity department so there can be one available in SCBU and the labour ward.

“Cold cots are refrigerated cots where a baby who has died can be kept alongside mum to enable her to be close to her baby and support the grieving process while she is in hospital.

“We have also purchased a large number of story books for the department so that every sibling of an angel baby will be given a book to help them understand what has happened.

“I want to thank everyone who has supported our event, especially family and friends and members of the She Can Running Club in Kettering and A1 Fitness gym in Telford Way.”

KGH bereavement midwife Stephanie Fretter said: “This is a tremendous donation which has involved a lot of effort from all of those involved.

“Bereavement can sometimes be a forgotten aspect of hospital care and so it was especially touching to be supported in such a powerful way.

“The new cold cot – and the new books – will make a big difference to the care we can offer mums who are unfortunate enough to lose their baby.

“I also think it is fantastic that Gemma and her family have done such a positive thing and have spoken so freely about their bereavement.”

October 9 to 15 is Baby Loss Awareness Week.

Throughout the week bereaved parents, their families and friends, unite with each other and others across the world to commemorate their babies’ lives.

Baby Loss Awareness Week also provides a chance to raise awareness about the issues surrounding pregnancy and baby loss in the UK.

This year KGH is calling for improved bereavement support for families affected by baby and pregnancy loss.

In the UK, Baby Loss Awareness Week is a collaboration between more than 40 charities.