A team of cyclists are in training for a 200-mile charity bike ride this Easter in memory of a baby who died seven hours after he was born at the hospital where his mother works as a midwife.
Jasper Hawkesford died last July at Warwick Hospital - his mother Holly has been a member of its midwifery team for more than ten years.
She and her husband Jon have organised the bike ride to raise £5,000 for the hospital’s maternity department and special care baby unit, and two charities, in return for the care and support they received from them.
Holly said: “We were unaware at the time but Jasper had internal abnormalities that caused him to have extremely underdeveloped lungs. He could never have survived.
“The staff at Warwick Hospital, my friends and colleagues, worked tirelessly in attempts to save Jasper and when it became apparent he was not going to live, they facilitated a beautiful, calm and loving environment for us to say goodbye to our son as he died in my arms.
“The staff allowed and encouraged us to make some magical, priceless memories, taking hundreds of photographs and having our family, including our four-year-old daughter Tessy, meet Jasper.
“I have worked alongside these people for the past 11 years, knowing what a special unit it is, staffed by some of the best midwives, nurses, doctors and support staff. I have always known what a great job they do, but now I know it from the other side.
“I cannot underestimate how difficult it was for them all to provide my care when they were so emotionally involved and yet they remained so professional, and in the midst of feeling that the world had stopped still as mine did, they continued to provide their usual standard of uncompromising care for all the other families on the department.”
On Tuesday March 31, 11 riders - aged from 13 to 70, including Jon and relatives and friends - will set off from Warwick Hospital and head for Salcombe in south Devon. Cycling 50 to 60 miles a day, they plan to complete the journey in four and a half days, arriving on Saturday April 4.
As well as South Warwickshire NHS Trust, the money raised will also go towards Edwards Trust, which supports children and families during serious illness and bereavement, and SANDS, the stillbirth and neonatal death charity.
Jon said “These three organisations have given amazing support to our family and we want to give something back to enable them to support other families in similar situations.
“Salcombe has always been a special place for us and cycling from the hospital where not only Jasper was born but my wife Holly works as a midwife seemed like the right thing to do in memory of our son.”
The trip is being called ‘Ride the Rainbow’ as a spectacular rainbow was seen over Warwick Hospital during Jasper’s short life.
Holly added: “We plan to organise and take part in several fundraising events over the coming months and years in memory of Jasper.”
More than £2,000 has already been raised in sponsorship and donations can be made via www.justgiving.com/teams/jaspersrainbow