Sands 40th anniversary
Networks & Volunteering Team, Sands | 20 August 2018
  • Volunteer's Names: Babs and Stuart Colbourne
  • Current roles: Befrienders at Norfolk Sands; Stuart is also the treasurer of the group  

Babs and Stu first became involved with Sands over 20 years ago, after the birth of their second grandchild triggered painful memories of their son Gregory, who died in his first weeks of life some 20-30 years earlier. 

At that time, ideas about bereavement care were very different. Babs was told very bluntly that her baby was dead and the couple were told to "go away and have another one". 

Gregory was buried in an adult grave, as was the practice at that time. 

Only years later, with the help of Sands, were Babs and Stu able to attempt to trace Gregory's final resting place. Setting up a permanent memorial for their son, the couple at last began to process their grief.

Having been supported by Sands, Babs and Stu joined Norwich Sands, the group which later became Norfolk Sands. They both trained as befrienders and worked hard to support bereaved families in Norwich, both at group meetings and over the telephone.

Stuart took responsibility for managing the group's finances as Treasurer, a role he continues to fulfil with dedication and meticulous attention to detail. 

Babs has taken responsibility for managing the supply of memory boxes to our local hospitals. She places the orders and makes up the boxes with loving care, which she finds cathartic as it feels like a way of doing something for Gregory. Together Babs and Stu maintain close contact with our local hospitals, making sure they never run out of supplies.

In recent years, Norfolk Sands has been operating at reduced capacity due to losing several volunteers in a short space of time because of changing family circumstances. 

At one point, the group consisted of only three people. Although of necessity operating a reduced service in other areas, Babs and Stu have always maintained the supply of memory boxes to the hospital, made sure the annual memorial services have gone ahead, kept up to date with our income and expenditure accounts and thanked people for their generous donations that have continued to flood in.

In the last 18 months we have succeeded in attracting new volunteers to our group, and have been able to resume befriending services. This is thanks in no small part to Babs and Stu's steadfast support through those challenging times.

Babs said:

“Sands helped us when it was most needed 26 years after our son Gregory died, so we just wanted to put something back.”

Babs and Stuart Colbourne have been nominated as part of 40 volunteers for #Sands40. Join them at Sands 40th Anniversary Conference on 17th November 2018 in Glasgow. 

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 be hosting 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. 

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