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Sunderland primary school brothers complete 50 mile charity challenge in memory of sister Gracie

Two primary schoolboys have run 50 miles in memory of their sister Gracie, who was tragically stillborn ten years ago, and to raise hundreds of pounds for the Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Society (SANDS).

By Neil Fatkin
Thursday, 7th April 2022, 4:55 am
Updated Thursday, 7th April 2022, 2:58 pm

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Gracie would have been in Year 5 if she had been alive but was tragically stillborn at 27 weeks after doctors couldn’t detect a heartbeat.

While mum Sue Gibbons said she had the support of her family, she has never forgotten the help afforded to her by the charity during a terribly traumatic time.

While brothers Henry and Billy, who attend Hasting Hill Academy, never got to meet their big sister they are very much aware of her story and were keen to do something to help ensure her memory lives on and to support other families who may experience similar devastation.

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Sue, 43, said: “When I was pregnant, I noticed I couldn’t feel Gracie kicking anymore. I went for a scan and the doctors told me she no longer had a heartbeat. I remember at the time all the support that was available from SANDS.

"I know of other parents who’ve been through a similar experience and the charity are always there to offer you support. I remember when I was pregnant with Billy, I was so happy to be pregnant again but was also sad at what happened to Gracie – which made me feel guilty.

“Losing a child in such circumstances still feels like a taboo subject and it’s important for people to know there’s someone there to talk to. We often talk about Gracie and what she would be doing now.”

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Brothers Billy, eight, and Henry Gibbon, seven, holding their medals after completing their charity run in memory their sister Gracie.

After her own traumatic experience, the family have looked to raise money and champion the charity’s cause. It was Billy, eight, who noticed a post on SANDS Facebook page about the 50 mile March challenge, and decided to take part in the initiative.

Throughout the month, Billy and brother Henry have been running in their local park and at Roker seafront and after completing the challenge have now received their medals from SANDS.

Billy said: “I felt like I wanted to do something for Gracie and to raise awareness for other parents who’ve had the same experience that there’s help out there. I quite enjoyed it and want to do another challenge next year.

Henry, seven, added: “I’m proud to have done 50 miles. I wanted to do something in Gracie’s memory. It was quite tough but I’m proud to have got my medal.”

Brothers Billy, eight, and Henry Gibbon, seven with mum Sue Gibbon, after completing their 50 mile charity run for the Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Society (SANDS).

The boys completed their final mile in the school yard, cheered on by their friends, and have now raised over £400 for the charity.

Year 2 teacher, Carole Stephenson, said: “We are so proud of the boys to have completed their 50 mile challenge. It’s no mean feat and has also raised awareness about such a sensitive issue that people don’t want to talk about.”

Sue added: “It was all Billy’s idea and I’m extremely proud of what they’ve done.”

Anyone who would like to donate to the charity’s cause can do so via the link on their website.

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