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A charity giving bereaved families a break gets the keys to its first respite caravan later this month.
Thanks to overwhelming support of well wishers, Anam Cara Fasgadh will start welcoming families to its luxury caravan at Tralee Bay Holiday Park on August 1.
Charity co-founder Susan Simpson from Appin said there is already a waiting list of child-loss families desperately needing the safe haven, which the charity can finally provide after just 14 months of fundraising.
The ambition is to open up a network of similar caravans and cabins at peaceful holiday park locations around the UK, but lots more funds will be needed to make it happen.
Lockdown meant the cancellation of many events that had been planned for this year, including a Ben Nevis Night Climb Challenge, now moved to next June.
‘Our first caravan is already in big demand. We’re getting more and more enquiries and our calendar is filling up. Our own family knows first-hand how special a space like this can be when you have experienced losing a child,’ said Mrs Simpson, who lost two babies Alex and Eilidh Beth.
Her other daughters Niamh, 11, and Charis who is 15, were among the first to get a sneak-peak inside the new caravan at the weekend, along with their dad Andrew and another family from Lochaber.
The charity’s Michael McGuire of Caol, Fort William, and his wife Rachel lost their son Kyle when he was stillborn almost 32 weeks into her pregnancy in May 2009. The couple were at Tralee Bay on Saturday with their six-year-old daughter Amelie who has been helping with fundraising.
Mr McGuire said: ‘This caravan will become a lifeline for many families, especially now when times are even more difficult because of coronavirus. All being well, people will be able to come here to spend time that they need with loved ones and it won’t cost them a penny.’
Anam Cara Fasgadh is there to help families who have lost a baby, child or young person – it’s name in Gaelic means love and shelter for bereaved souls.
The caravan at Tralee, sleeping a family of four, with two bathrooms and decking overlooking a small loch, is just a few minutes stroll from the beach.
Earlier this month, the charity was also gifted a family week in a caravan by the owner of Port Ban Holiday Park at Kilberry, near Tarbert.
‘We appreciate everyone’s help so much, it has got us to this milestone and we hope there will be more to come with people’s loving support,’ said Mrs Simpson.
To help kit out the already furnished caravan at Tralee, the charity has drawn up a wish list on its website including home-from-home essentials such as pots and pans and a storage shed.
Support is also needed to help make-up welcome packs for visiting families, including local produce, gift vouchers, eating out tokens and children’s craft activities.
And the charity will also be funding their own mascot teddies for families to take home as keepsakes.
In the UK each year an estimated 17,000 plus families are bereaved through stillbirth or the death of an infant, child or young person up to the age of 25 – more than 250,000 others experience a miscarriage.
To find out more about Anam Cara Fasgadh and how you can help or get its help, visit www.anamcarafasgadh.org/