Feat in memory of baby Dexter
A HEARTBROKEN couple whose lives were torn apart after their child was stillborn are calling for increased awareness of how commonly the tragedy occurs.
Bereaved Prestwich parents Rachael Walsh and Ferg Crossley are raising money for charity SANDS in memory of their son Dexter, who was stillborn last October.
Rachael was 39 weeks pregnant when the couple were told his heart had stopped beating.
She was induced and their son was born the following day at Bolton Royal Hospital weighing 6 lbs 15.5 ozs. Baby Dexter was buried on his original due date.
The couple, also parents to nine-year-old Matthew, are fundraising for better research into what causes stillbirths and how they can be prevented.
Rachael, aged 32, of Ruskin Road, said: “It was only after Dexter was born that I became aware how tragically common stillbirths and neonatal deaths are in this country.
“The more I read the more angry and upset I became.
“Seventeen babies die in the UK every day and our stillbirth rates, the highest in the developed world, have disgustingly not changed in 20 years.
“Stillbirth is ten times more common than cot death, but no-one speaks about it and a lot of these deaths could be prevented.
“No parent should have to bury their child.”
The couple’s fundraising will culminate on Sunday, October 6, when a 26-strong team named Dexter’s Midnight Mudders will take part in gruelling 12-mile obstacle course Tough Mudder in Cheshire.
Rachael can no longer take part in the endurance test — which sees participants battle through fire, icy water, live wires and muddy tunnels — as she is now pregnant again and is due next month.
Some members of the team are people Rachael and Ferg have never met and they say they have been “blown away” by the fantastic response.
Rachael said: “We have been humbled by people’s generosity and will never, ever be able to thank them enough.
“They could not give us what we so desperately want and this is their way of showing us they really want to help.”
Ferg and other team members completed a warm-up event, the Prestwich Challenge, in June and more than £5,000 in sponsorship already has been raised so far.
The fundraising also forms part of Team 17 – a nationwide SANDS campaign which has already met its target of raising £17,000 in 17 months.
Rachael said: “When we lost Dexter we became part of a community that exists in silence because people do not speak about these babies.
“How does somebody die before they have lived? It is completely against the normal order of everything.
“It is so hard to put into the words the pain, disbelief, anger, frustration, love, desperation and sadness we have felt since that day.
“Your heart physically aches for your baby and your world has stopped whilst everyone else carries on – a part of us is gone forever too.”
As well as supporting bereaved parents, SANDS funds research projects and raises awareness within the media and with policymakers in government.
Rachael added: “There needs to be more awareness and expectant mothers should know to monitor their baby’s movement.
“I am fiercely proud of my son. Dexter has touched so many people’s lives and he deserves to me more than just a statistic.
“If his death can in any way help prevent other families going through this hell then he did not die for nothing.”
To make a donation: go to justgiving.com/DexterEdward
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