Beds, Herts & Bucks

Milton Keynes Hospital Butterfly Suite helps bereaved parents

Simon Gill
Image caption Simon Gill raised more than £5,000 for a suite for bereaved parents at Milton Keynes Hospital

A Buckinghamshire man whose baby daughter was stillborn said a new hospital suite for bereaved parents would make a big difference.

Simon Gill, from Milton Keynes, raised more than half the funds for the Butterfly Suite, a dedicated room on the labour ward at the town's hospital, which parents can use before, during and after delivery of a stillborn baby.

He decided to help after he and his wife suffered a stillbirth at the hospital 18 months ago, and raised more than £5,000 by completing an "Ultra Marathon", a gruelling 40-mile run across the Peak District.

"I really wanted to do something to help families like mine in the future," he said.

"Our care [from the staff] had been amazing but I always felt that the facilities let down the care that they were able to provide and the new facility [addresses] that."

'Really hard'

Mr Gill and his wife Jenny have had four children, but their third, a daughter called Olivia, was stillborn at 25 weeks.

"It's quite a strange experience because there is so much that is the same as usual labour and there is still that moment when the baby comes, which is a sort of joy because you hold your own baby.

"It's an amazing moment and a really sad one.

"It was really hard because we were on a labour ward," he added.

"They tried to tuck us away so we didn't really hear any other crying babies.

"It's not that you despise anybody else having a healthy baby, it's just not something you want to see."

Mr Gill stayed in hospital with his wife and, with no other facilities available to him, had to sleep on the floor which he described as "one of the hardest night's sleep".

'Little things'

When he heard that staff were raising funds for a bereavement suite, he decided to help as he knew first-hand that it would make a difference to parents needing quiet time after such a traumatic event.

The Butterfly Suite offers private space for parents and has been equipped with a double bed, sofa, fold-down chair bed, tea and coffee-making facilities, a TV and an en-suite washroom.

"As a husband you just want to care for your wife and it's very hard to do that in a sterile hospital [environment] and the new suite allows you do do that.

"I wouldn't have had to sleep on the floor, just little things like that, being able to make your own tea and coffee, to watch a bit of TV for a sense of normality, to take your mind off things."

Mr Gill decided to take on an Ultra Marathon because it was "a little bit stupid".

'Bit special'

"I'd never run a marathon but I reckoned I could," he said.

"I thought let's do something a little bit special that would maybe provoke people into giving a bit more money.

"Having seen the new facilities, I was really impressed and know that it was worth the effort."

The room cost £9,000 to refurbish and was paid for entirely by volunteer fundraising, including contributions from the Friends of Milton Keynes Hospital & Community and the Milton Keynes SANDS (Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Society) group.

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