Mums Emma Wiles and Stacey Alliston raised over £2,900 for Broomfield Hospital’s Blossom suite after organising a hugely successful fun day in memory of their daughters Isla and Lois.
Despite having no previous event-organising experience, the pair attracted over 1,500 people to Witham Town Football Club to enjoy inflatable rides, bouncy castles, a giant slide, football games, face painters, and a whole host of food and drink stalls.
They also had a raffle where the top prize was four tickets to see dance group Diversity’s latest show.
Broomfield Hospital’s Blossom suite is run by bereavement midwife Tabitha Stuthridge, who supports families who suffer baby loss. Emma and Stacey wanted to raise money as a thank you to Tabitha, to help parents who experience loss, and to raise awareness of the issue.
“It was an amazing day and we did the girls proud,” said Emma. “I was sobbing to my husband at 5am that morning thinking nobody would come and that we’d fail her but in the end we had to queue to get out!"
“The support we’ve received from our friends and families is unreal,’ added Stacey. “We even had the police turn up to offer us help with parking as they’d never seen so much traffic around the football club.”
Emma and Stacey met through a baby loss Facebook group set up by Tabitha, and both were full of praise for how she has helped them though their losses.
“Tabitha is one in a million,” said Emma. “I don’t think baby loss is something you get better from. Without Tabitha I don’t even know if I’d be here to be honest. I went to the bottom of a very big dark black hole. I don’t think Tabitha realises how many lives she saves. We call her our earth angel.”
Tabitha, Emma and Stacey are all hopeful the money can be used for a memorial garden and go towards expanding the counselling service for parents.
“As parents it’d be nice to be able to take your baby outside,” said Stacey. “As much as the bereavement room is fantastic, when you lose your baby you’re in a maternity unit. You need that outside space where you can have that little bit of normality away from the rest of the babies.”
“I had to wait from July to November for counselling. It’d be great if we could raise enough money to have a counsellor full-time in the Blossom suite,” said Emma.
Both Emma and Stacey were already fantastic supporters of the Blossom suite. Stacey creates cards and memory bears for parents of stillborn children and fundraises through her Lois’ Legacy GoFundMe page, and Emma makes baby clothes out of unwanted wedding dresses she receives through her Facebook group Isla’s Angels.
They hope that through their work, they can encourage people to talk about baby loss.
”Baby loss isn’t spoken about,” said Stacey. “We want to make people comfortable to talk about their child. I’ll talk about Lois to whoever wants to listen. I just want to reassure people it is normal to cry. It’s part of grief.”
“Because people don’t talk about it, people don’t know how to deal with you,” added Emma. “People have said, ‘At least she wasn’t a proper baby.’ Well I kissed that ‘not proper’ baby and I held that ‘not proper’ baby’s hand.”
Midwife Tabitha calls Stacey and Emma ‘Team Blossom’ and paid tribute to their incredible work.
“Their support is so valuable. They’re amazing. I’m so impressed at how much they’ve done, especially with having to deal with their own loss, and then to think of others and raise money. They’re always asking me if I need anything, and even built a cabinet for me. I’m so grateful. All of our extra bits – the hand and foot casting, the clothes the parents can choose – are all funded by donations.
“We’d like a garden outside and the long-term goal is to get a counselling service set up that specialises in baby loss. Every time money is donated, it takes us that little step closer to achieving that.”