A new bereavement support group has been launched in Hereford by two local mums who helped each other after the death of their babies. They are now asking anyone affected by pregnancy or baby loss in the area to get in touch.

Hereford Sands has been set up by Laura Culpin, whose baby daughter Penny was stillborn in 2016, and Sarah Williamson, whose first born little boy Reuben died in July 2018 when he was two days old.

Sarah and Laura met through sharing their loss and looking for support on social media and went on to set up Unexpected Parenthood together, which they will continue to run alongside Hereford Sands.

After Penny died I really struggled to find support and was on a waiting list for a year to see a grief counsellor. A friend put me in touch with a mum who had lost years previously and for the first time, I spoke to someone who 'got it'. I really wanted to set up a support group so invited Sarah, the mother I had been introduced to.

From there we launched Unexpected Parenthood within a month of meeting and have supported one another and other bereaved parents since November 2018. We both fell pregnant and wanted some structure and longevity to the group so we decided to enquire about transitioning to a Sands group. It is a comfort knowing that Penny has given me the strength to help other parents so I can help them on their grief journey.

 - Laura Culpin

Hereford Sands
Laura Culpin (l) and Sarah Williamson (r) of Hereford Sands

The group will hold their first meeting on 17 June. 

Find out more and connect with Hereford Sands on Facebook at facebook.com/HerefordSands

Unexpected Parenthood began after I felt completely alone in my grief. I put a social media post out almost questioning whether I was alone and asking if anyone else was my situation; the response was incredible. It was then that I met Laura and instantly felt we had a shared purpose to improve bereavement support and I suddenly realised the scale of people affected by loss even within a small city such as Hereford.

I am so pleased we can finally launch Hereford Sands. I hope by doing so we can help support families, provide guidance and I can continue to find purpose in my loss. I am not someone who does well from talking about my feelings but from doing and working through how I feel; since the very first time I met other bereaved families on what would have been Reuben’s due date I knew that there was more to come.

So far our journey has led to a small group of women establishing Hereford Sands but I know there is much more that we will achieve and much more care support and guidance to give.

- Sarah Williamson

For more than 40 years Sands, has always been there; walking with bereaved parents as they navigate their lives without their babies, providing a safe space to grieve and commemorate their babies, working with the NHS to provide empathetic bereavement care and campaigning to save babies lives. 

I want to say a big thank you to Sarah and Laura for all the support they have given to bereaved parents and for choosing to set up Hereford Sands to help more people affected by pregnancy and baby loss in the area.  Many parents feel that only others who have experienced the death of a baby can offer real understanding.

Our network of over 100 local support Groups across the UK, usually run by bereaved parents and family members, are a vital part of the bereavement support services we offer. I also  want to acknowledge the amazing commitment all our volunteers have given to Sands during one of the toughest years of our lifetimes.

- Clea Harmer, Sands Chief Executive

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