Sands’ Conference & AGM: #FindingYourWay2019

Thank you for attending our conference on 23rd November 2019, in London.

The theme of the conference was Finding Your Way, which was carried on from Sands digital awareness campaign in June and focused on tackling the taboo and helping to break the silence that exists around baby loss, especially for men, who can feel overlooked when a baby dies.

If you have missed the event, take a look at the Spotlight on Sands presentation and below video. You can read and download Prof. Asma Khalil's presentation on How to Save Babies' Lives. We have also launched our Impact Report 2018/19 - discover key milestones and achievements.

Sands Volunteer Awards Winners

  • Leslie Altic, Befriender for Belfast Sands, Support Award winner
  • Marion Boyd, Chair of Ayrshire Sands, Support Award winner
  • Kate Breen and Bradford Sands, Allotment Project, Innovation Award winner
  • Peter Byrom, Sands United Bristol FC, Inclusion Award winner
  • Betty Clarke, Befriender for Derby Sands Awareness & Support Award winner
  • Ross Coniam, Sands United Northampton, Fundraising Award winner
  • Fiona Donald, Chair of Aberdeen Sands, Support Award winner
  • Maxine Hosking, Chair of Nottinghamshire Sands, Awareness Award winner
  • Victoria & Jason Michaelides, Sands Fundraisers, Fundraising Award winners
  • Professor Gordon Smith, Sands Perinatal Expert Panel (PEP),Leadership Award winner
  • Nia Wyn Williams, Secretary and Treasurer for Gwynedd Sands, Leadership Award winner

Congratulations to the winners! 

Discover more about each of the winners of the Volunteer Awards in this presentation. 


Pictures from the day

Have a look at our photo album of the day.

Impact Report 2018/19

Our 2018/19 Impact Report was presented at the end of the conference.

You can read it all and download it from here.

Annual General Meeting & new Trustees

Thank you for attending the hour-long AGM hosted ahead of the conference which provided Sands members with an opportunity to hear an update from the Board of Trustees on activities and progress made during the past year. 

Following the Annual General Meeting (AGM)  we are delighted to welcome a trio of new faces to the Sands Board: Jonathan Bird, Joel Mitchell and Dr Sarah Stock were elected following a vote by Sands’ members at Resource for London in Holloway Road on Saturday 23 November. 

Read more about them here.

Workshops presentations

Workshop 1: Running a Support Meeting - Richard Craig and Lesley Dewar
Join us for this interactive session to share ideas and think about key skills needed to facilitate a successful support meeting.

Workshop 2: Supporting Men - Helen Butlin and Peter Byrom
How does men’s grief differ around baby loss, how can Sands best support men to grow around their grief? Find the presentation here.

Workshop 3: Focus on Fundraising in the Community: Maximising impact and increasing engagement - Nicola Gale and Natalie Lovegrove
Join us for a fun, collaborative and interactive workshop that will outline our new fundraising strategy with a specific focus on fundraising in the community. Read the presentation here.

Workshop 4: Returning to work: helping employers support their bereaved staff - Ross Jones and Fatima Bhula
This workshop will consider the issues faced by parents on return work and discuss how Sands is working with employers to ensure that bereaved employees feel fully supported. Access the presentation here.

Workshop 5: Why research is core to our work: Sands new research strategy - Mehali Patel and Kate Mulley
This interactive workshop will outline Sands’ new Research Strategy and demonstrate how it will help us achieve our ambition to save babies lives, increase understanding of why babies die and provide better bereavement care and support.

Workshop 6: Art Workshop – Exploring grief through different media - Vicky Paul
This is a safe, fun, healing workshop that requires no previous painting experience. For adults only.

Workshop 7: Finding Your Way – A Midwife’s Perspective - Clare Worgan and Rebekah Walsh
During this workshop we have a rare opportunity to consider bereavement from this care givers perspective. Find their presentation here.

Workshop 8: Supporting Siblings - Jen Coates and Sarah Richardson
Ages and stages of children’s grief, supporting a child through a subsequent pregnancy, how to help schools help our children. Read more here.

About the conference

Sands' Conference is aimed at trustees, members, staff, volunteers, befrienders, bereaved parents, supporters and donors. The conference provided an opportunity for the whole organisation to celebrate what has been achieved and focus on how we can work together to support anyone affected by the death of a baby, improve bereavement care and save babies’ lives.

The theme of the conference was Finding Your Way, which carried on from Sands digital awareness campaign in June and focused on tackling the taboo and helping to break the silence that exists around baby loss, especially for men, who can feel overlooked when a baby dies.

There was a moment of remembrance to allow everyone to remember all those babies who have died before, during and after pregnancy.

Speakers' bios

Robert Allen


Robert Allen is the Founder of Sands United.  After losing his daughter Niamh in October 2017, he helped organise a charity football game raising around £6000.  Following this Sands United was born from the players who took part that day.  The bonds built and friendships made were so strong they knew they had built something special, a safe place for men who had lost children to share, to talk, to just be themselves.  After the first team formed in June 2018 there are now over 15 teams across the country providing support to all men affected by loss

Jonathan Bird


Jonathan Bird is a proven business owner, international speaker, dedicated marketer and a bereaved father.  He is the CEO of Delivered Social, a digital marketing agency based in Guildford.

He uses his vast knowledge of social media platforms to deliver expert business advice to high-profile clients in various major sectors.  Jonathan has spoken on digital marketing and social media at conferences and events around the UK.  He has also travelled the globe, giving his social media masterclass in such nations as Dubai.

Richard Boyd


Rich is a bereaved father of two stillborn twins and three rainbow children, writing about experiences of stillbirth, miscarriage and life afterwards.  He has been writing to raise awareness of the many different aspects of loss for four years, is an active participant in the wider pregnancy and baby loss community, and supports bereaved parents in the workplace and as a befriender for Tamba.  You can follow him on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Peter Byrom


Following the loss of his first son Thomas in January 2004, Peter felt for years that support wasn’t out there for him.  He felt lost but didn’t want to be the only bloke in the room at a support meeting.  That all changed after he took part in the Bristol 10K in May 2018 to raise money for Sands and realised that support can come in many different forms.  Within a month he’d been to his first support meeting and joined the committee.  He now looks after the social media accounts for Bristol Sands, is the manager of Sands United Bristol FC and a befriender for Bristol Sands.

Sophie Daniels


Sophie Daniels is a Professional (usually non-performing), Songwriter and Head of Songwriting at The Institute of Contemporary Music Performance, (ICMP) where she pioneered Songwriting Provision in 2004.  She is also a wife and mother to three children, Liberty, Cosmo and Rocco.  Liberty died in 2011 and inspired the not for profit EP project ‘Liberty’s Mother’.

Liberty’s Mother came about instinctively, after Sophie was invited to sing at a ceremony for MPs who had lost babies, which took place during Baby Loss Awareness Week 2018.  Sophie was asked to perform her original song ‘I Can Love You From Here’, which was written by Sophie just ten weeks after her own baby daughter, Liberty, was stillborn at full term in 2011.  The song had not been planned for sharing as part of her professional career, however, the reaction that followed that performance from MPs, charities and health professionals alike, convinced Sophie to record the song in Nashville and, ultimately, to turn it into a not for profit EP project about her experiences as a Mother who has lost her baby.

David Haig






David Haig has had a varied acting career on stage and screen including roles in the hit British film Four Weddings and A Funeral and the BBC television sitcom The Thin Blue Line, and in My Boy Jack, his own screenplay about Rudyard Kipling and the death of his son, Jack. In 1998 he won an Olivier Award for his performance in Our Country's Good

More recently he has appeared in the TV drama Killing Eve, and in the film Downton Abbey.

David became involved with us after his daughter Grace was stillborn in 1996. He supports us as an Ambassador in many ways, including by writing a foreword for one of our books Fathers Feel too. David lives in London with his partner Julia and their 5 other children.

Asma Khalil


Asma Khalil is a consultant obstetrician at St George’s Hospital and Professor at St George’s Medical School, University of London.  She is a subspecialist in Maternal and Fetal Medicine. She gained her MD(Res) at the University of London in 2009.  She also has a Masters degree in Epidemiology from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and an MRC scholarship.

She has published more than 170 peer reviewed papers, and many published review articles and chapters.  She was awarded many research prizes, both at national and international meetings.  Her research interests include multiple pregnancy, hypertensive disease in pregnancy and fetal growth restriction.  She is committed to the implementation of clinical guidelines in practice and believes that they could reduce inequalities in care across the NHS.  She is an Expert Advisor to NICE and co-chaired the South West Maternity Network.  She also chaired the Steering Committee of the Maternity Engagement Project to improve the outcomes of multiple pregnancies by implementing NICE quality standards.  She is a member of the national fetal medicine Clinical Study Group.

Vicky Paul


Vicky Paul is an intuitive artist and writer who works with individuals and groups to create transformation.  Following a life changing experience in her 30’s, Vicky brings authenticity, compassion and humour to everything she does, and her greatest wish is to help you live your life in alignment with who you truly are.  Vicky is a certified Yoga Teacher and Soul Plan Practitioner and in addition to painting, she is also writing a book about soul reconnection which will be published by That Guy’s House in 2020. For more information

Conference Agenda

If you have attended, you will have

  • Learned about the progress that is being made to make our vision a reality, and what is being planned for the last year of the Sands Strategy 2017-2020
  • Discovered different ways to meet the needs of men following the death of a baby
  • Took key learning from workshops and use this to inform and improve the work of Sands
  • Found out who won the Volunteer awards to celebrate and recognise the amazing work of Sands’ volunteers

Sands Conference offered keynote speeches from our guest speakers, as well as networking opportunities for members, volunteers, befrienders, fundraisers, bereaved parents and staff, and two sets of workshops on a variety of topics:

  • Running a support meeting
  • Supporting men
  • Focus on Fundraising in the Community: Maximising impact and increasing engagement
  • Returning to work: helping employers support their bereaved staff
  • Why research is core to our work: Sands new research strategy
  • Art Workshop - exploring grief through different media
  • Bereavement midwife - finding your way
  •  Supporting siblings

Read more about workshops below

Annual General Meeting (AGM)

08:30 – 08:50 Registration and Refreshments 

09:00 – 09:05 Welcome, Introduction & Candle Lighting

09:05 – 09:45 AGM

09:45 – 10:00 Q and A

10:00 – End of AGM

Sands' Conference - Finding Your Way

09:00 – 10:10 Registration for the conference

10:15 – 10:20 Welcome and introduction

10:20 – 10:50 Spotlight on Sands

10:50 – 11:20 Saving babies’ lives – Professor Asma Khalil (Professor of Obstetrics and Maternal-Fetal Medicine at St George’s University Hospital)

11.20 – 11.50 Break

11:50 – 12:50 Workshops 1

12.50 – 13:15 Remembrance

13:15 – 14:15 Lunch

14:15 – 14:50 Panel discussion on #FindingYourWay – with bereaved fathers Rob Allen (Sands United FC), Richard Boyd  (@ShoeboxofM), Jonathan Bird (Delivered Social) and Michael O’Neil, lead by David Haig,  Actor and Sands Ambassador 

14.50 – 15.50 Workshops 2

15.50 – 16:05 Tea/Coffee break

16.05 – 16.25 AGM results and Volunteer Awards

16:25 – 16:30 Final summary and close

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