£8,000 boost for charity which helps grieving parents

Charity fund-raiser: Julie Reay (centre) with Kirsty (left) and Tracey McGurrell from 4Louis with one of the 'Cuddle Cot Boxes'.
Charity fund-raiser: Julie Reay (centre) with Kirsty (left) and Tracey McGurrell from 4Louis with one of the 'Cuddle Cot Boxes'.
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A CHARITY will be supporting more parents than ever through the trauma of losing a child after a cash injection from a super fund-raiser.

Julie Reay has donated £8,000 to 4Louis, a charity which provides memory boxes, specialist equipment and funds NHS staff bereavement training in a bid to ease the pain for those who’ve suffered the death of an infant.

As a bereaved mother, this cause is so close to my heart. I know how important support at a time like this is.

Julie Reay

It was set up by Shiney Row mum Kirsty McGurrell, 26, and her family after she underwent the ordeal of losing her first son Louis who was stillborn in December 2009.

What started as a project to provide 20 memory boxes to Sunderland Royal Hospital, containing items to help parents in their time of grief, has snowballed into a national charity which provides support to 182 hospitals and units across the country.

The charity soon outgrew Kirsty’s parents’, Bob and Tracey’s, kitchen and is now based in 4Louis offices in Bracken Hill Business Park, Peterlee, where dedicated volunteers manufacture 300 boxes a week.

Julie Reay, from Barnes, has been so touched by the cause that she has donated funds from her Peter David Lane Trust Fund, set up in memory of her son, to 4Louis.

Some of the total, £5,000, has been donated from the £50,000 Julie had set aside for Grace House in Southwick, but after learning it will now be a short-break and respite care facility, instead of its intended purpose of a hospice, she’s been dividing the money between other causes.

“As a bereaved mother, this cause is so close to my heart,” said Julie. “I know how important support at a time like this is.”

The £5,000 will go towards the £20,000 needed to create a bereavement suite at Sunderland Royal, which is being entirely funded by 4Louis.

Another £3,000 is being donated to pay for two cuddle cots. They will bear a plaque dedicated to Peter’s Trust and are used to keep stillborn babies cool so that parents can spend precious more days with their child.

Tracey said: “Julie is an absolutely amazing woman, she is the heart of Sunderland. She is the greatest fund-raiser I know. The cuddle cots cost £1,500 each and are shaped like Moses baskets so are a lot less clinical. They give parents some precious days with their child.”

4Louis is working closely with Sunderland Royal to create a bereavement suite, which will be used by families of stillborn or miscarried babies.

Tracey said: “Kirsty knew Louis would be stillborn, but she still had to go through the trauma of giving birth to him. It was in a normal delivery suite with pictures of breast-feeding mums on the walls. You could hear the cries of other babies around us, but Kirsty had to take home an empty car seat. It was awful.

“But changes are now being made and hospitals are doing more to support the parents who lose their babies.”

From the £50,000 which had been set aside for Grace House, Julie has also donated £26,000 to Kian’s Gift, £5,000 to St Benedict’s Hospice, £2,000 to Great North Air Ambulance, £500 to Brothers in Arms, £500 to Support Our Paras, £500 to Crohn’s and colitis research, £500 to Wearside Women in Need, £1,000 to the Sunderland branch of the Royal Society for the Blind, £2,000 to CRUK and £1,000 to Teenage Cancer Trust North East.

Julie set up The Peter David Lane Trust Fund following the death of her son Peter in a tragic rope swing accident in 2002. It has so far raised more than £150,000 for good causes across Wearside.