A Heysham couple who tragically lost their baby daughter are aiming to raise awareness of stillbirths by collecting baby vests to represent every stillborn baby in the UK last year.
Matilda was stillborn in February at 36 weeks and four days, and Chelsie Gladstone and her fiance Matt Walker are now raising money to support several charities connected to stillbirths.
Chelsie, 31, and Matt, 40, have already raised nearly £8,000, and their latest ‘empty vest’ initiative aims to raise much-needed cash as well as highlight the number of babies stillborn in the UK each year.
“Our beautiful daughter Matilda was stillborn in February after a healthy pregnancy,” health and safety advisor Chelsie said. “This was caused by placental abnormalities.
“Matilda was our second child, we are also parents to a two-and-a-half-year-old son, Jax. We are super proud of both of our children.
“We are keen to raise funds and awareness. We don’t get to parent Matilda in normal ways, so we call this part of our ’Matilda parenting’.”
To date, with the help of family and friends, the couple have raised nearly £8,000 for different charities including Tigerlily, Bay Hospitals Charity, Sands and Beyond Bea.
“We have seen Matilda’s name travel all over the world which is breaking the silence and the taboo surrounding baby loss,” Chelsie said.
“We have helped with training offered to medical professionals to explain the journey from a parent’s perspective.
“We are also going to be working with the NHS to hopefully help with positive change surrounding baby loss.
“We would of course wish for nothing more than for Matilda to be here with us but she isn’t it so we are trying to channel our energy into positive avenues.
“All that we are doing in memory of Matilda is to keep her memory alive. We owe it to our daughter and every other single baby and their families.
“Matilda was still born but Still a life, Still existed, Still a baby, Still a daughter, Still a sister.”
The couple’s new ‘empty vest’ project relates to last year’s stillbirth statistics, which show 2,689 babies were stillborn in the UK.
“We are wanting to create a large visual representation of these statistics,” Chelsie said.
“Each vest will represent one of those babies who has been stillborn.
“Once all donated vests have been received, we will arrange a date for all vests to be laid out and will be using a drone to video it.”
Once all vests have been received, the couple will set up a JustGiving page asking people to sponsor a vest at £1 each.
The vests will later be washed and donated to a charity for further use.
“We will be raising money for Bay Hospitals Charity and this will then be channelled down to the maternity bereavement services,” Chelsie said.
“We are asking the charity to utilise any monies raised for the new Rainbow Clinic which is being set up at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary. The Rainbow clinic will start in September of this year.
“This clinic will be a pathway rainbow clinic. The clinic will provide specialist care and support during subsequent pregnancies for parents who have suffered a stillbirth, compassionate induction for medical reasons or neonatal death.”
So far, Chelsie and Matt have around 800 vests. with more being collected from across the country, but are still looking for more to add to their collection.
If you can help, please contact Chelsie by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and she can help arrange delivery or local collections.