My name is Luke and I wanted to tell you about my Mummy’s charity, “Friends of Serenity”. My Mummy set the charity up in 2013 after I was stillborn. I had something called Trisomy 13, a genetic condition which meant I grew my angel wings before I was born. The hospital I was born in had a special room for mummies and daddies with angel babies called the “Serenity Suite” but unfortunately when I was born this special room was in use, so Mummy had to have me in a normal delivery room. She didn’t get a memory box either or any special keepsakes to help remember me by. She was sad about this and wished she had been able to have these things. My Mummy is the bravest person I know so she decided to do something to help other families with poorly babies and children or angels like me. That is when “Friends of Serenity” was created.
Mummy wanted to do three things to help other people. She wanted to tell people about Trisomy 13 so they didn’t feel alone if they found out their baby had it too. She wanted to make another suite like the Serenity Suite at her hospital so that other families didn’t go through what she did. Lastly, she wanted to create some special memory boxes and precious keepsakes for families whose babies were born too soon, so that they could have the chance to make precious memories.
My mummy worked really hard for the first year, raising as much money as possible and making sure Friends of Serenity was able to be registered as a charity. In this time she created boxes for my angel friends. They had lots of lovely things inside them like memory cards for the hospital camera, special tiny clothes, inkless wipes for taking hand and footprints, forget me not seeds for families to plant and hats, gowns and blankets to clothe and embrace them. She had a special ball with an auction and raised even more money. On July 15th 2014 her hard work paid off and Friends of Serenity was granted charity status.
That wasn’t enough for Mummy! She worked really hard alongside my Daddy, the other trustees Lil and Tom and the best family and friends. Finally, in June 2015 the Butterfly Suite was opened at the hospital. This is a home from home room where families can be together to welcome their babies into the world and say goodbye to them in their own special way. There was even a cuddle cot that had been donated from Oliver’s parents in there to make sure families could have as much time together as possible. Some of the other charity funds were also used to revamp the original Serenity Suite. Something that is continuously done is to replace soft furnishings or things that become damaged or broken in both rooms. The charity has also contributed towards two quiet rooms which are rooms where families go when they have received bad news. A room where they can have time together as a family and digest the information they have been told.
Since the charity became official it has raised over £110,000. The charity now provides miscarriage keepsakes and memory boxes for very early pregnancy losses we well as throughout all stages of pregnancy. Mummy wanted to give everyone the chance to make memories and had to recruit more help. She now works with lots of volunteers to do keepsake making evenings where 100’s are made at a time. It’s always a very special evening! Lots of families get the opportunity to talk about their missed little ones. The charity also tries to help my angel friends’ siblings by providing story books to help them understand a little bit what has happened to them. Postal orders are also purchased for the registrars so that mummies and daddies don’t have to pay for their baby’s birth and death certificates.
Friends of Serenity has also helped fund a special scan trainer to train midwives and other healthcare professionals so that they can develop their skills for diagnosing any problems earlier in pregnancies and detect small growing babies or restricted growth on the uterus. A new scanning bed was also purchased for a special antenatal clinic that is midwife led to scan babies to detect small growing babies. All these services combined have helped to reduce stillbirths in the trust by20%.
Mummy, Daddy and our other trustees Lil, Natalie, Stacey and Andrew, always take the time to talk to families. Along the way they have also made many new friends. Mummy has, in particular, made friends with a lady called Sarah. She spoke to this lady just days she lost her precious little girl Maggie. Mummy says it was one of the hardest phone calls she ever received, hearing the pain and heartbreak in her voice. Mummy struck up a friendship with Sarah and since then Friends of Serenity have collaborated with her on several projects, including memory boxes. In October 2017 Mummy got to help Sarah and her family open up a quiet room which she funded on the Gynaecology ward. Friends of Serenity were lucky to support by providing soft furnishings. In April this year Friends or Serenity and Sarah’s charity donated £3500 each towards a cold blanket for older children at Blackburn Royal hospital.
Mummy has also spoken to lots of different midwives and doctors to help them better understand how to help mummies and daddies who have had angel babies. In amongst all these things, she also found the time to have my two little brothers. Toby was born just 10 days before the Butterfly suite was opened and Jacob just 7 days before the quiet room on the Gynaecology ward.
I turned 5 in March this year. This felt like a big number to my Mummy and it makes her feel sad. I know she thinks about me more than ever. She wonders what I would have been like and what I would have enjoyed. Would I have liked vehicles like Toby or shaking and banging things like baby Jacob? Mummy wanted to celebrate my birthday and the charity turning five. She didn’t want to let me down. She recruited her trustees and lots of friends and volunteers to hold a 1 mile fun run and fun day. I made sure the sun shone that day. It was amazing! Over 250 runners, lots of stalls, bouncy castles, inflatables, mascots and games. The local radio helped host the day. So many families attended who have received our help, many wearing t-shirts with dedications to their little ones. Overwhelming! Over £9000 was raised from the event which is going towards new projects.
This year the charity has also participated in the NHS 70th year celebrations with a stall held by Stacey and Andrew and also several local big events, such as a 1940’s day to help raise money and raise awareness. Mummy was even very brave when it was my birthday in March and spoke about me and the journey for having my two brothers at a study day at UCLAN University. Our trustees like to talk about me and my friends too. They now meet once a month with a charity called Homestart and make things for the charity or crafts. They encourage our families in East Lancashire to come along. They find comfort knowing they are not alone.
Moving forwards, the charity has lots planned. My Daddy thought it would help other daddies and family members when babies are born to have somewhere comfy to rest. The charity are going to help fund 10 reclining chairs to support this. The trust has many new projects and we are hoping to work with them on new rooms that are being provided as well as new equipment.
I am very proud of our charity and everything it has achieved. I know Mummy, Daddy, the trustees and their family and friends have helped so many different families at the worst time of their lives. There are still lots of plans for the charity in the future and I know they will keep helping others.
Thank you for reading about our charity Friends of Serenity.
Lots of love and floaty kisses,
Luke Oliver Edwards xx
What others have said:
“After the loss of our son Harry we was able to spend time with him in a cold cot and suite that was funded by friends of serenity we also got our memory box as something we could make memories in the short time we could spend with Harry. Even since leaving hospital we have had continued support from the charity from just chatting to jo going to support meetings that have been set up and attending a fun run event that they organised. This charity does great work to make what is a really hard time that little bit easier and should be very proud of what they have accomplished.”