Steven and Jacqui pull on their trainers to raise money for stillbirth charity

Steven and Jacqui Guy will be walking for Sands tomorrow (Saturday). INPT18-026
Steven and Jacqui Guy will be walking for Sands tomorrow (Saturday). INPT18-026

When Steven and Jacqui Guy pulled on their trainers last Saturday for a 21-mile walk, their daughter Danielle will be uppermost in their minds.

Danielle, who was stillborn, would have been 21 on Saturday, and although her death was a personal tragedy for her parents it has, nonetheless, shaped their lives in a positive way.

Less than a year after the traumatic birth, Steven and Jacqui set up the Portadown branch of Sands, the stillbirth and neonatal death charity, which they initially ran from their living room.

Over the years, the couple have helped countless couples deal with the pain of losing a child, and continue to run the Portadown group, which meets once a month.

And five years ago, Steven gave up his job as a lorry driver and took up a permanent post with the charity, having been appointed regional co-ordinator for Northern Ireland.

What Steven is most proud of during his years with Sands is the supply of memory boxes to maternity and neonatal units across the province. The boxes contain a hand-knit blanket, two teddy bears (one for the parents and the other for the baby), a hand and footprint kit, keepsake booklet and contact cards for support organisations such as Sands.

He said, “The boxes are special and very precious to parents. One lady who was making one up recently said that as she tied the bow she was thinking of the bereaved parent who would open it.

“The good thing is to see parents come to us and then learn to move on with their lives. If another baby comes along, it doesn’t replace the baby you have lost but it certainly helps. We hold a Christmas service every year when parents can remember their child and a walk along the north coast in June.

“We help parents to move on with their grief but with that child as part of their family. We have four children. Danielle is our third, and that’s why we are marking her birthday tomorrow.”

And it’s not just parents whose children have died recently who need support. Steven recently helped a father find the grave of his twin son who died in 1973.

The surviving twin, with his parents, celebrated his 40th birthday by visiting his brother’s grave for the first time.