Belfast Telegraph

New charity will help to ease the heartache over stillbirths

By Amanda Poole

A couple whose baby daughter was stillborn at 36 weeks has set up a charity aimed at promoting stillbirth awareness, support and education.

Named after Julianne and Christopher Williams’ daughter Cara, the Cara Rose Trust offers support to those experiencing the heartbreak and devastation of stillbirth.

Every week in Northern Ireland an average of two stillbirths are recorded.

The charity, which was launched in Stormont on Monday at an event hosted by Michelle McIlveen MLA, will be based in an office in South Street in Newtownards.

Among the services it offers are support groups and free memorial stones. A long-term aim of the charity is to help open specialist clinics for women having high-risk pregnancies.

Julianne said the heartache of losing little Cara on May 13, 2008, would always be with her, but she wants to make sure other families can openly talk about stillbirth and feel supported once they leave the hospital.

“We want the word stillbirth to no longer be whispered, and make these babies be remembered,” she said.

“We have got a lot of comfort from helping other families. It gives us a good feeling.”

Christopher said bereaved fathers “shouldn’t bottle up their feelings”. And she said he wants men to avail of the charity’s services.

Fr Martin O Hagan — one of the famous singing Priests — is the Williams’ parish priest and a chaplain in the Ulster Hospital. He has responded to a number of call-outs to parents who have been left devastated by stillbirth.

Fr O’Hagan said he is very proud of what the Co Down couple are doing. “An organisation like The Cara Rose Trust, where there are two parents who have experienced this themselves and wish to reach out to others, can be of tremendous benefit and reassurance,” he said.

Dianne Smith, a social worker and chairperson of the charity, suffered a stillbirth in 2001, and said it was important that stillbirth is “no longer a taboo subject”.

She explained how only a death certificate is issued in the case of stillbirth babies. A birth certificate should also be issued, says the charity.

For more information visit www.thecararosetrust.org.uk

Factfile

A stillborn child is one who dies in the womb after 24 weeks of pregnancy. There is an average of two stillbirths in Northern Ireland every week. Babies are stillborn for many reasons, including maternal infections, placenta complications and umbilical cord problems. In many cases there is no explanation. Worldwide there are around 4m stillbirths every year.

Source: The Cara Rose Trust

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