WHEN Tameside mum Claire Relph went into labour, having clothes and toiletries at the hospital for partner Marcus was the last thing she expected to need.
Sadly, she gave birth to her little boy Jenson sleeping at 37 weeks and four days so Marcus ended up staying at Tameside Hospital with Claire so they could spend as much time as possible with their little boy before saying goodbye.
An idea later formed in Claire’s mind that she hoped would help give other parents in their position one less thing to worry about.
She started fundraising to help put together care packages for bereaved parents so fathers can remain with their partners and their babies for as long as they can.
The packages include a toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoos, shower gels, soaps, face cloths, pyjamas, socks, underwear, snacks, and a Costa Coffee voucher.
Claire said: “I presumed I was in full labour so I brought my suitcase to the hospital but Marcus didn’t bring anything, not even a toothbrush.
“We never imagined we wouldn’t be coming home with our beautiful little boy. We were devastated and wanted to spend as much time with him as we could.
“The midwife was wonderful and she did her best to find some toiletries for us. It’s not something you think about, but even those little things make a huge difference at such an upsetting time.
“It wasn’t until a good while afterwards that we started to do the care packages. We’ve had loads of people come to us and say what a fantastic idea it is, and the hospital have been very supportive.”
Claire and Marcus are also raising money for a caravan which bereaved parents can use at the hospital for a rest and some privacy.
They took on a sponsored climb of Mount Snowden on July 3, which raised £800 towards the care packages and about £1,600 which is being split between the caravan and a headstone for Jenson.
They have penciled in more post-lockdown fundraising and hope to register as an official charity.
And with the success of donated care packages to the Harebell Suite at Tameside Hospital, they hope to extend their olive branch to other hospitals in Greater Manchester.
Claire said: “Our big aim for the future is to get the caravan that we can take to the hospital where bereaved parents can go for a rest and a break, and some privacy.
“We’re also hoping, once we have registered as an official charity, to extend the care packages to other hospitals like St Mary’s and Stepping Hill.
“The response we’ve had so far is amazing, but we know we can do more.”
• If you would like to donate, you can do so online at www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/claire-relph-5