HeatherJane Coombs
HeatherJane Coombs, Sands | 10 February 2020

Alongside our partners, supporters and volunteers across the UK, we're a team of caring, highly skilled staff working to support anyone affected by the death of a baby, improve bereavement care and fund research to save babies' lives. In this series of blogs, you can meet a few members of the team, hear about why they chose to work for Sands, and what inspires them in their work. The charity is divided into different departments, which work closely together to provide a lifeline when a baby dies. 

Meet HeatherJane Coombs, who is Sands' Wales Network Coordinator and Befriender Trainer

What does your day to day job involve?
My typical day involves engaging with my volunteers to check they are well and if they need help with anything, working closely with bereavement midwives in the area as well as funeral directors and bereavement services and Welsh Government; trying to recruit new volunteers in all areas that need them. It also includes a lot of listening. I organise a few remembrance services including one at the Senedd. I’m also a befriender trainer and train new befrienders for Sands, which I love.

How long have you been with Sands? Has your role changed since you started working for the charity? 
I’ve been involved with Sands for 16 years this September and employed for the past 8 years. Yes, it has changed a great deal. In the early days we had a National Stillbirth Working Group in Wales which I was heavily involved with when Safer Pregnancy Campaign was launched. Groups also worked very independently. 

What did you find most rewarding/motivating for you? 
Seeing new groups expanding, seeing the number of babies dying reduced and seeing people proud of volunteering for Sands. Also how recognised we are. In the early days I would go to meetings and people didn’t have a clue who we were, now they do.

What is your proudest moment in your career? And, while at Sands? 
Seeing Cardiff City Hall lit up in pink and blue light for Baby Loss Awareness Week knowing I had made it happen, and finding the grave for a family where the gran was finally able to say goodbye to her son after 51 years. Both were emotional.

What do you love most about Sands?
The people. Sands were there for me in my darkest hour and while I found the new me. I have met so many people who have inspired me. I’m passionate and motivated about the aims of Sands, I don’t want the care and support for parents to be a postcode lottery. My aim has always been to make sure parents have more than we had.

What do you enjoy doing outside of work? Hobbies?
I love to explore with my camera. Friends and family are important to me and making memories with them on days out. Theatre and cinema trips and afternoon teas. My main enjoyment is spending time with my hubby and my fur baby Jax. 


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