Love and shelter mission makes a start in Tralee

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A Benderloch couple grieving for two babies are at the heart of a £45,000 fundraising mission to give love and shelter to other bereaved families.

Susan and Andrew Simpson are co-founders of a new project to buy a network of holiday caravans or cabins giving  short-break havens to just some of the 17,000 families every year in the UK affected by stillbirth or the death of a baby, child or young person up to the age of 25. A further estimated 250,000 families experience a miscarriage.

Called Anam Cara Fasgadh, the project has applied for charity status and is pushing ahead with plans to buy its first caravan at Tralee Bay Holiday Park.

‘Our first will be at Tralee but after that there will be more to come in other peaceful and accessible locations around the UK  wherever we can get a good team of people wanting to support us,’ said Mrs Simpson.

As well as accommodation for families in need of respite, the project will provide recreational activities and support.

The Simpsons, who are also involved locally in other baby loss charities,  are determined to raise the £45,000 they need for the Tralee caravan by the end of this year.

They have the back-up of other co-founders, Michael McGuire and Jenni Morris, and a team of directors and patrons including BBC Alba presenter Mairi Rodgers and Bella Mackie, who is the author wife of Radio 1 DJ Greg James.

‘It’s a tall order to have £45,000 in place by the end of this year but we are determined to do it,’ said Mrs Simpson. She, like all the others involved in the project who have lost children, is driven by the project’s tag line: ‘Our Kids Will Move Mountains.’

‘We want to give the very best we can to the families who will come to us for respite. Love and shelter is key,’ she said.

Any family will be able to self-refer but will need a supporting form
from their GP, midwife, health visitor, chaplain, social worker or a recognised charity.

‘Families can still be raw years down the line so there’s no time frame to being able to use the caravans or cabins. There are still milestones and the anniversaries,’ said Mrs Simpson, who had a miscarriage in 2007, three years before daughter Eilidh Beth was stillborn at 34 weeks. The couple have two daughters, Charis, 14, and 10-year-old Niamh.

The initial £45,000 raised will buy a caravan, hopefully a three-bed, at the Tralee holiday park but there will still be extra annual costs to cover maintenance. Paid cleaners will get the caravan ready for visiting families and volunteers will arrange welcome packs.

Main funding will be sought through grants  and there will also be fundraising events and collaborations with businesses and other charities and organisations.

‘There are so many families to help that we’ve got to think big. We would love a lot of money but if someone can only offer a couple of pounds, it will all help,’ said Mrs Simpson.

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