Alnwick couple raise £5,000 to help bereaved families despite their own heartbreak at loss of son
An Alnwick couple are working to overcome their own personal heartbreak by helping other bereaved families.
Natalie and Callum Laidlaw had a stillborn son, Vinnie James Laidlaw, on March 28 at 33 weeks and six days.
Over the past few weeks they have raised a phenomenal £5,000 for 4Louis, a North East stillbirth and child loss charity.
"We will always cherish the little time we got with Vinnie. He has changed us both forever and we are blessed to be his parents.
"Although we are heartbroken we know Vinnie is at peace and hasn't suffered any pain so we take some comfort from that.”
Scans had shown that Vinnie had half a working heart – as did Natalie’s sister, Nicola, who died at six weeks old. He would have faced a series of open heart surgeries and potentially an operation on his oesophagus.
"We knew the fight he'd have but we had come to terms since January that he only had half a heart and that we had a 50/60% chance of him surviving to school age,” said Natalie.
They were able to spend time with him at Newcastle RVI thanks to a cuddle cot, a cooling mattress that stop the baby's body deteriorating.
Their fundraising has enabled them to buy three.
One has been presented to Newcastle RVI with a plaque with Vinnie’s name, a second is going to Leeds General Infirmary and a third has been presented to the Alnwick branch of William Purves funeral directors to share between their North East branches.
In addition, six memory boxes have been bought for the Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital in Cramlington.
“We really feel this has honoured Vinnie's memory,” said Natalie. “He has touched so many people’s lives and will help so many other families. Vinnie is definitely proof that no footprint is too small to leave its imprint on this world.
"We'd like to say a huge thankyou to all that have helped by donating and sharing,” she added. “We’re genuinely speechless and grateful of the distraction.”
In addition, Natalie is doing the Great North Run in September for Little Hearts Matter.
To donate, visit https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/natalie-laidlaw1
Peter Townsend, funeral director at William Purves (incorporating Alistair Turner) said: “We are privileged to not only have been chosen as the custodian of such a valuable resource for bereaved families but to also carry the legacy it now represents. Thanks to the fundraising efforts of Mr and Mrs Laidlaw, Vinnie’s Cot will be used by families throughout the region following the loss of a baby.
“Having extra time to say goodbye, especially in the comfort of their own home is now a reality for families in the North East. Being able to protect this important rite of passage for a healthy bereavement will make a profound impact and we are honoured to support families in this way.”