Skydiving barbers take to the skies in support of families facing baby loss

The cutting crew from Levi’s Barbers in Beeston, Nottingham, are part of a seven-strong team taking on a daring skydiving challenge to raise essential funds for Forever Stars, the local charity dedicated to providing support for families affected by baby loss and miscarriage.

On 26 July, Levi Bradley (age 30), Callum Tighe (27) and Omar Baird (22) will leap from a ‘Grand Caravan’ plane at 14,000 feet to take on not only their first-ever fundraiser for Forever Stars but also their first-ever skydive.

Joining the trio on the skydive are Ben Wright (age 28) of Skinvasion, a premier tattoo studio in Toton, and Ella Peck (27), Joab Bryan (28) and Abi Hallam, who is celebrating her 28th birthday on the day of the skydive.

All monies raised by the skydive will go directly to Forever Stars’ ‘Supporting 1 on 4 for 2024’ Campaign’. Designed to focus on the one in four pregnancies that end in miscarriage every day, Forever Stars is looking to raise £50,000 from the campaign. The monies will be used to completely redesign and refit the Ward A23 garden at Nottingham’s Queen’s Medical Centre (QMC) hospital, to turn it into a comforting space for patients and their families to escape to when dealing with the heartbreak of miscarriage and baby loss.

Co-founder of Forever Stars, Richard Daniels, explains:“What started out as a casual conversation about Levi and the team wanting to do a skydive, very quickly moved to a confirmed event with seven skydivers jumping out of the plane for Forever Stars!

“I think it’s great that a barbers is getting involved with the charity, because it is opening up a dialogue with men about baby loss, an area the charity is really focused on; we know that men don’t talk enough about their feelings and emotions, and that the devasting impact baby loss can have a huge impact on a person’s mental health.

“The team at Forever Stars can’t thank Levi’s Barbers, their friends and supporters enough for their commitment and promotion of this skydive,” he adds. “This high-flying fundraising event will make a real difference to our Supporting 1 in 4 in 2024 campaign for A23 at the Queen’s Medical Centre.”

Levi’s Barbers’ Callum Tighe adds: “The skydive for Forever Stars is our first official fundraising event and whilst we are a little nervous about it, we’re looking forward to doing what we can for Richard and the charity, and helping support their amazing work and support.

“So far, preparation has focused on finding out what we can about the skydive itself – we know that the plane will take about 20 minutes to reach the required 14,000 feet, and once we’ve made the jump, we freefall for around 60 seconds, reaching 60mph in just 2.7 seconds, and 125mph in less than five seconds! After opening the parachute, we should glide to the ground in around seven minutes – I’m looking forward to seeing family and friends who will be there to support us once I am back on solid ground!”

To support Levi, Callum, Omar, Ben, Abi, Ella, and Joab in their skydive for Forever Stars, please visit their JustGiving page: https://www.justgiving.com/page/levi-barbers-skydive?utm_medium=fundraising&utm_content=page%2Flevi-barbers-skydive&utm_source=email&utm_campaign=pfp-email

Levi's Barbers

Martyn’s Story

I have known Richard and Michelle for many years which stemmed from our love of Nottingham Forest.

I used to be a partner in an electrical company based in Ilkeston and always looked to help local charities and organisations which benefitted the community.

My life was changed completely with their story, and I felt this was my chance to give back more, I raised money through shaving off my moustache and hair and other fund-raising events.

Richard asked me to become a trustee and I accepted hoping I could do more. As the charity grew and we needed dedicated volunteer’s I was tasked along side Daniel to look after the serenity garden which Is now blooming through hard work from FS and external volunteers.

Forever stars are a big part of my life and I enjoy all events that they run.

Chantelle’s Story

In 2018, 18 months after the birth of our first child, Finley, we were delighted to be expecting baby number two. Excited at the prospect of a new addition to the family, we had a private scan at six weeks and were overjoyed to see a heartbeat and our tiny baby.

Six weeks later after experiencing all the usual pregnancy symptoms, we attended the QMC for our routine 12-week scan. Here, we were told that they couldn’t find a heartbeat and things weren’t developing as they’d expect. We were obviously extremely shocked and devastated as until this point, there had been no sign that anything was wrong.

Unfortunately, the hospital was unable to take our first scan into consideration, as it had been carried out privately, and we were told we would have to wait a couple of weeks before coming back for another scan to confirm what we already knew in our hearts was happening. I had suffered a miscarriage.

Ironically, we’d taken my mother-ln-law along to the scan in an attempt to cheer her up following the recent loss of her husband, little did we know that we’d receive this devasting news.

It was that this appointment that I had my first experience of A23. I was sent to the ward to discuss next steps with the team on A23. Whilst sat waiting, a couple behind me were calling their friends and family to inform them that they’d just found out that they were expecting twins. It was at this point, and in tears, I asked to be moved to somewhere more private. The staff quickly sorted me an alternative room to wait in.

After speaking to the doctor, I was given instructions to return in 10 days to confirm that I’d miscarried and – if things hadn’t happened naturally – to discuss the next steps.

Those 10 days were horrific and when returning to the hospital it was confirmed that I had suffered a miscarriage. At this point there was still no obvious signs that I’d miscarried, I actually still felt pregnant.

I opted to have a pessary to encourage my body to do what was needed and after a few hours was sent home. Unfortunately, a few days later I was experiencing agonising pain and returned back to A23 where I had to undergo a D&C to remove the baby.

Once I returned home, I found that there was very little support for people who had experienced miscarriage, I felt lonely and isolated and an overwhelming sense of guilt for what had happened.

A year later we were delighted and slightly nervous to be expecting again. However, at six weeks I started spotting. I rang A23 in a panic and was reassured that light spotting is quite common, but due to my previous miscarriage they offered me a scan just to check everything was ok. At this scan our fears were confirmed, and they said we should prepare for the worse as things didn’t look quite right.

Again, we had to wait two weeks for another scan to confirm. At this point they could see that the baby had grown, but things still didn’t look quite right. We waited another week before it was confirmed that I’d suffered another miscarriage. We were devastated. At this point, I was also worried about the future and whether we’d even be able to have another child.

This time, I decided to opt straight for a D&C before returning home to recover and come to terms with another loss. After both miscarriages I suffered from pelvic inflammatory disease,which although was just a case of bad luck, certainly didn’t help things.

After this second miscarriage, my mental health declined. I was extremely anxious and had this constant fear that something would go wrong. As a result, in 2019, I was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, which required therapy sought through the NHS.

The support for families who’ve experienced a miscarriage is really limited and I believe if there was more support available after my miscarriages, this may have been avoided. I know people who have received more mental health support following abortions than that offered to those who experience miscarriage. More needs to be done.

However, although I’m still working on my mental health, our story does have a happy ending and we welcomed our rainbow baby, Archie, in 2013, completing our family. This has enabled me to get to a place where I’m ok talking about what we went through and allows me to share my story in the hope of helping others feel less alone.

Supporting 1 in 4 in 2024

I think the Forever Stars ‘Supporting 1 in 4 in 2024’ campaign is fantastic. Anything that encourages people to be aware and talk about miscarriage is a good thing as it will help people feel less isolated and break the taboo that seems to surround miscarriage.

Revamping A23 will also make a difference to families. The staff work hard to treat people from a clinical perspective, but the environment could be better. When I used the ward the waiting area was quite sparse and not particularly comforting or inviting. It felt like a typical clinical hospital ward. I didn’t spend any time in the garden as it was winter and it wasn’t a great space, although it certainly has the potential to provide space for reflection at a distressing time.

Advice for others experiencing miscarriage

I think it would’ve helped me to hear stories from others who had experienced miscarriage. So, I want to share a few bits of advice that might provide comfort.

  1. Don’t feel ashamed or afraid to talk about it. Talking to family and friends will help you to feel less alone. You’ll probably be surprised how many people have been through something similar.
  2. Don’t feel guilty – it’s not your fault.
  3. You’re not on your own, it’s more common than people realise. Charities such as Forever Stars can help provide the support you need to help you come to terms with your loss.

Find out more about the ‘Supporting 1 in 4 in 2024’ campaign.

#waveoflight

Join us at the #waveoflife global campaign. Just light a candle and leave it burning for at least an hour to remember all that babies who were taken from this earth far too soon.

Join Forever Stars on October 15th to remember the lives of the babies which were taken from us too soon. You can join in individually or with loved ones, or in a group, whether it’s at home or in a communal space. You’ll be joining the global ‘Wave of Light’ campaign in memory of the babies who ‘lit up our lives for

This can be done individually or in a group, at home or in a communal space. Wherever you do this, you will be joining a global ‘Wave of Light’ in memory of all the babies who lit up our lives for such a short time.

Volunteers take on the weeds at the Serenity Garden Site

In April 2021, volunteers joined the Forever Stars team and got stuck into some serious weeding as preparations begin for the official opening of the site.

Forever Stars have been fundraising and planning the Serenity Garden since 2019 and in Summer 2021, it is anticipated that phase one of the garden will have been completed.

Phase one includes two incredible sculptures that have been commissioned especially for the Serenity Garden; one is called the Fallen Acorn and the another called the Forever Star, both have been created by the artist Rachel Carter.

The Forever Stars team will be attending the Serenity Garden on a weekly basis, so if you fancy getting a little weeding or litter picking then please get in touch!

You can find out more information about helping at the Serenity Garden by emailing jo.sharp@www.foreverstars.org

Marc’s 4 million steps to Serenity!

Mark Edwards first became aware of Forever Stars when I met Richard by chance at a joint activity we were undertaking, and was immediately struck by their story and the amazing cause that had come from such heartache.

Over the last few years Mark followed the charity’s progress and like many of us in 2020, decided that 2021 has to be a more meaningful year.

Having spent some of lockdown walking on a daily basis, and spurred on by a very close friend and my family, Mark has continued walking lots in 2021 but with the main aim of raising money for Forever Stars!

From New Years day 2021, Mark is tracking every step he does with the target to complete 4 million steps by 31st December 2021. The first walk started at the Serenity garden in Highfields, which have been a regular focus of Marks updates throughout the year due to it being the next big Forever Stars project.

Mark has already raised over £800 including gift aid and it still making great progress to achieve his 4 million steps target!  If you would like to sponsor Mark, you can visit his JustGiving page here.

Baby loss mum walks 100 miles in memory of daughter Ava to raise money for Forever Stars

Forever Stars trustee Carly Clarke took on the challenge of walking 100 miles throughout the month of April in memory of her little girl Ava who was born sleeping.  Throughout the month of April you could see Carly walking regularly with husband Ben and son Arlo dressed in her Forever Stars top!

During the month of April, Carly was also accompanied by a lot of friends and family to help her achieve her fantastic challenge including her mum Sharon.

Carly used the Serenity Suite at the Queen’s Medical Centre and has ever since been an incredible supporter and Trustee for the challenge.

On May 31st, Carly’s fundraising page closed with her having raised an incredible £1472.50 for Forever Stars in Ava’s memory.

 

Money from face masks for Forever Stars!

Averham’s resident mask makers Tracy Carlisle and Alison Rose have impressively raised over £1000 for their chosen charity Forever Stars – an East Midlands charity for stillbirth and infant loss.

Masks are still available from Easthorpe News and Southwell Garden Centre, but when stocks are sold the mask boxes will not be replenished!

A huge thank you to everyone who has purchased one so far!

Nottingham star Vicky McClure to feature in new film about baby loss

Line of Duty star Vicky McClure has a very different role coming up – joining the cast of a new short film about baby loss.

The hard-hitting 15 minute film is the idea of Nottingham director Rob Sharp, who hopes it will tackle the difficult subject of grief as he seeks to help people open up and discuss this very sensitive topic.

Good Grief has been given the green light after raising over £12,000 in a crowdfunding campaign campaign, with local stillbirth and child bereavement charity Forever Stars investing major funding into the project.

It follows four women who have lost their child and gives an insight into their grieving process, their understanding of what grief is and why it has to hurt so much.

Rob, who writes and produces as Sirloin Films, said: “There is a big chance you will know someone who has suffered such a loss, or unfortunately this may be something that has happened to you. It is far more common than any of us can imagine and yet it is a subject that we do not talk about.

“Our film hopes to help start these conversations and that is why I am so pleased to have Forever Stars on board as both a backer and such a great resource in terms of the experiences that so many people have been through.”

Forever Stars, started by Michelle and Richard Daniels following the stillbirth of their daughter Emily in 2013, will shortly be opening its Serenity Garden at Highfields Park.

Fundraising manager, Jo Sharp, no relation to Rob, said: “One of our biggest messages is simply ‘talk about them’ but of course, this is a hugely difficult and emotive subject to talk about. When we heard about Rob’s film we were firstly just so excited that someone of his calibre and talent wanted to shine a light on the subject.

“Then when we discovered we could help to make the project come alive we were very keen to get involved and we are delighted to be able to invest some of our funds into backing it. If we can help anyone who has been affected this could make a huge difference, not just in terms of child loss but also with the impact of Covid it can be a powerful message of hope for so many people.”

The script was written from Rob’s own experiences of grief and from those of his family and friends.

He added: “The first draft had none of the usual research and planning, I just poured my thoughts onto the page late one night. Then from conversations and connections with people and bereavement charities who kindly shared their experiences, the script has evolved to incorporate their stories and their brutal honesty.”

On Vicky McClure joining the cast, Rob couldn’t be prouder

“To have such an amazingly talented actor involved in this project means so much to all of us. The fact that Vicky believes in the script and wanted to be a part of this film is testament to what we are trying to achieve. I can’t thank her enough for her involvement and we’re so excited to be working with her.”

The film will begin pre-production in early Spring (restrictions permitting) and is scheduled to premiere in Nottingham on the annual Wave of Light Night on October 15, which is the culmination of annual Baby Loss Awareness Week.

Mansfield mates in 40-mile walk to raise money for Forever Stars

When it comes to helping a charity for bereaved parents, four mates from Mansfield are not only talking the talk, they are also walking the walk.

For the quartet are to tackle a 40-mile sponsored trek, spanning 12 hours in just one day, to raise hundreds of pounds.  The walk, scheduled for Friday, June 25, is the idea of 32-year-old Jamie Lynch, who will be joined by long-time friends Craig Page, 33, and Richard Sims, 31, plus workmate Ross Johnson, 25.

The charity to benefit will be the Nottingham-based Forever Stars, which supports mums and dads who have lost babies at birth.

Jamie explained: “Craig and myself started doing a lot of walking during lockdown because the gyms were shut.  “My fiancee, Lucy Bexton, told me about Forever Stars because her mum knew somebody who had been affected and, straight away, I felt it sounded like a fantastic cause worth supporting.”

The charity was set up in 2014 by Nottingham parents Michelle and Richard Daniels after the tragic stillbirth of daughter Emily at the Queen’s Medical Centre (QMC) in the city.

They were full of praise for the hospital staff, but felt there was a need for better facilities for parents who have had a stillborn baby.  Instead they were taken to a room in a maternity ward that was for people lucky enough to have had a healthy newborn child.  Since its formation, Forever Stars has raised money to create bereavement areas called Serenity Suites at both the QMC and Nottingham City Hospital where families can grieve and spend time with their stillbirth babies.

Furthermore, a Serenity Garden is being created at Highfields Park in Nottingham as “a place for focus, relaxation and reflection”.  The garden will be the destination for the Mansfield quartet’s 12-hour walk. They plan to start in Mansfield at about six in the morning and take in a 40-mile route that could include Teversal and the Five Pits Trail, as well as Hardwick Hall in Bolsover.

Jamie, a project manager for Nottingham-based Magnet Kitchens, said: “I am 100 per cent confident we can do it.  The two of us walk regularly, including in the Peak District, and we are all quite active. We will be in good shape on the day.”

Forever Stars continues to raise money to help families cope with baby loss, which plunges them from excitement to devastation.

But the Serenity Suites have had the most telling impact, as Jamie, who himself has a two-year-old daughter, acknowledges.  “They are private places where parents can recover,” he said. “The last place they want to be is a labour ward, surrounded by the sound of babies crying and families celebrating.  The suites include ‘cold cots’ where they can spend time with their babies and create memories. Family and friends can also visit.”

Jamie and his mates have set up a JustGiving page if you would like to donate to the cause.

They aim to raise £1,500, and more than 50 supporters have already promised two-thirds of that.  “It is going well, and we are really happy with what we have done,” added Jamie. “We want to spread the word and smash the target”

Baby Loss Awareness Week 2020

Forever Stars have been working as hard as ever this year by reaching out to the local community and businesses to turn Nottingham pink and blue. Below is a collection of photos and links to highlight and celebrate Baby Loss Awareness Week 2020.

Please see several links below:

Mums describe the importance of remembering lives that might have been

Area of Clifton to be turned pink and blue for Baby Loss Awareness week

Enchanted Rose Florist at intu Derby

Below is a selection of images from local communities and land marks around Nottingham celebrating BLAW by going Pink and Blue.