Sands 40th anniversary
Networks & Volunteering Team, Sands | 5 June 2018
  • Volunteer's Name: Jill Mackey
  • Current role: Treasurer at Durham & Wearside Sands; befriender at Newcastle and D&W Sands
  • Details of previous role(s)/activities: Treasurer and befriender

“Jill is an inspiration to everyone at Durham and Wearside Sands, she really is the one everyone turns to for comfort and both practical and emotional support. Jill is the constant and glue which holds everything together at Durham and Wearside Sands and also volunteers as a befriender at Newcastle Sands. She is amazing and the most super organised person. Jill stays in the background and encourages and nurtures new volunteers to give them the confidence to step forward. It would be lovely if she was recognised as she is Sands through and through.” - says Ashleigh Corker, North East Network Coordinator, Sands

Note from Jill:

“When my daughter Stevie died I hadn’t heard of Sands. 15 months later I was told that a Sands Support Group was being set up in my area, what could I do, how could I help? I went to that first meeting on 21 January 2008 armed with biscuits – how best to put folk at ease but with a cuppa and a biscuit. 10 years on, I’m still buying the biscuits.This year marks the 40th anniversary of Sands but also the 10th anniversary of the Durham and Wearside support group. 

What I do for Sands I do for Stevie, it helps to keep her memory alive; giving me reason to say her name aloud and talk about her regularly. I’m often asked why people say silly things when told about the death of a baby. Baby death is a taboo, its uncomfortable but so is a pause in conversation; people say almost anything to fill the gap. They’re not trying to be hurtful, they’re just trying (and often failing) to do the right thing, to find the right words.

To a newly bereaved family, support is vitally important and getting that from someone who has “been there done that” is crucial. Attending a Sands Support Group is often the first contact families have with Sands. Following this first grass routes contact, families become aware of the important work Sands do behind the scenes, funding research and training, helping to improve the care and support given to families and medical professionals.

If I can help bereaved families feel comfortable and safe for one night a month then I know Stevie would be proud of me – and nice biscuits are a big part of that!” 

Sands is marking its 40th anniversary this year and we would like to say thank you for the incredible support and contribution that our dedicated volunteers make across the UK to support bereaved parents and anyone affected by the death of a baby. 

We will host an awards ceremony during the Sands 40th Anniversary Conference to celebrate the wide range of volunteering involvement in Sands and acknowledge 40 volunteers for their dedication and commitment. 

Volunteer nominations for 2018 are open and we invite you to nominate individuals or teams of volunteers. Please contact to find out more and to make your nomination.

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