One of my first jobs as newly appointed Chair of the Joint Crematorium Committee for Durham Crematorium was to hand over a cheque for £5000 to local representatives of the Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Charity (SANDS), an organisation who work tirelessly to help both parents face the difficulty of losing a much cherished baby through stillbirth or neonatal difficulties. An article in the Northern Echo dated 9th August 2017 was slightly misleading as it made reference to Mountsett Crematorium Committee as handing over a cheque for £5000 to Sands.; Mountsett’s representative handed a different cheque to another charity i.e. Coping with Cancer North East.
I spent over two hours talking with the ladies from SANDS who informed me of the work they do; offering mental and practical support to families experiencing such loss and providing literature and memory boxes for parents to remember their child and also provide keepsakes for them to treasure. The national organisation of Sands works with NHS England to identify the issues behind stillbirth and neonatal deaths and regularly provide reports and best practice examples, gathered from throughout the country, to help the NHS to develop solutions and to assist with future medical research.
I also paid tribute to the many families, who whilst suffering their own loss, signed up to the Crematorium donation service at what must be an extremely difficult time for them, and through their kindness have been able to help such a rewarding cause and will allow the tremendous work of this small Charity to continue to help others.