A father who experienced the death of his unborn baby has traveled more than 100 miles to raise money for a support group that has helped him and his wife come to terms with their grief.
Dean and Fiona Osell are parents to three daughters but lost their baby while pregnant in February last year.
The couple found solace in the Swansea Bay Baby Loss Support Group, which provides support for bereaved parents and is facilitated by the health board’s bereavement midwife. Bereaved parents were the driving force behind the support group being developed in October 2019.
Former arborist Dean wanted to thank the support group and raised funds with a long 150-mile walk, starting from Dean’s birthplace near Hednesford, Staffordshire, and ending at the family home in the Swansea Valley .
Fiona worked at Morriston Hospital for ten years before becoming Chief Site Radiographer at Prince Philip Hospital in Llanelli.
Fiona said: “We sadly lost our baby boy at 27 weeks. Although the situation we found ourselves in was devastating, the help and support we received from hospital staff during this time and the resources made available to us helped us a lot.
“I was surprised how many people in the community had their own personal story of loss, all with their own unique circumstances, but all devastating to the families involved, with the grief that these losses often bring to be dealt with internally.
“We wanted to raise awareness about this group and the work they do in our community, while raising funds to help them achieve their goals of helping those in need of their services and continuing to support bereaved parents and families. “.
Dean’s challenge saw him walking unsupported, carrying camping gear in a backpack, weighing 30 pounds. Accompanied by their childhood friend John Randle, the pair took a route of only footpaths and trails while avoiding roads, meaning it was neither the flattest nor the most direct route ; it also features an elevation of approximately 25,000 feet along the length of the boardwalk.
The route took Wenlock Edge, Knighton, the Shropshire Hills, Offa’s Dyke and Hay on Wye, before John had to retire on the seventh day, due to severe blistering. Dean continued through Pencelli near Brecon and Pen y Fan, and was later joined by his friend John, after having his injuries treated. John, along with Deans’ brother-in-law, Jansen Morris, gave him moral support and helped him through the final stages of his journey. After nine grueling days, Dean arrived home in Rhos.
“I arrived home for a surprise welcome party. A beer and a burger went well, but I have to admit I was practically sleeping up at this point” says Dean.
Her efforts have seen her raise almost £1,500 for the Swansea Bay Baby Loss Support Group. The support group provides both online support and a monthly face-to-face meeting at the Llandarcy Pavillion which offers a safe space for parents to talk freely about their grief and the feelings surrounding their baby or future pregnancies after their loss while being supported by other parents and the bereavement midwife specialist.
Previous fundraisers organized by members of the support group led to the refurbishment of quiet rooms in antenatal wards used by families after receiving devastating news. Supporters are raising funds this year to develop the environment in which parents are cared for in the labor room, including the development of a dedicated bereavement suite that will be soundproofed, to continue to purchase items of manufacture memory and resources for bereaved families, staff training, annual memorial services and to support local baby loss communities in Swansea Bay
Christie-Ann Lang, a bereavement midwife, said: “The loss of a baby is devastating to parents and families, but the dedication, determination and kindness shown by Dean and Fiona in memory of their son is inspiring. Funds raised will go a long way towards improving the environment. whose parents and families are cared for in our Labor Ward at Singleton Hospital and will allow families to create treasured memories with their children who have sadly passed away while being able to purchase resources to support parents and families. .
“Thank you once again to Fiona and Dean for helping to raise awareness of the loss of a baby in Swansea Bay and for the funds raised on your son’s memorial walk.”
(Main image: Swansea Bay NHS)