Rhona McFarlane, Kiltwalker and fundraiser for #TeamSands
Rhona McFarlane, Kiltwalker and fundraiser for #TeamSands | 20 March 2020

Rhona is taking part in the Glasgow Kiltwalk 2020 to raise funds for Ayrshire Sands and she has shared her story with us. 


I first became aware of Sands when I was working in West Lothian. One of my colleagues lost a baby and received help and support from Sands.

He wanted to give something back and asked us to create teams to run in the Hairy Haggis team relay at the Edinburgh Marathon Festival, in a bid to raise money for a number of charities, including Held in our Hearts.

A number of years later, moving jobs brought me to Ayrshire. I was so happy to be back near the West Coast where I grew up. My husband and I purchased our first home and we started to prepare for when we’d start ‘trying’ for a family.

We discovered I was pregnant in January 2018 and we were absolutely delighted. Things were going well and we broke the news to our family and friends after our 12-week scan.

On 3rd May something wasn’t right and I ended up driving myself to hospital. Our little girl came too early at 19 weeks and 3 days. We were devastated.

We sought out help immediately and attended our first Sands support meeting the Monday after. The members of the group were friendly, understanding and at the end of the phone at times when I needed them.

We called our little girl Hope Mary. Hope for the future and Mary for my granny who we had lost earlier in the year.

I was glad I had contributed to supporting Sands years before. It’s a strange thing though as I never thought of it being something that would affect me. My mum and granny haven't ever had difficulties in pregnancy, so it wasn’t something I was prepared for.

We attended meetings most months until January 2019 when we discovered that I was pregnant again. This time we got a seven week scan and to our amazement and excitement, we found out that I was expecting twins. We thought that this was nature’s way of making things up to us for the loss of our precious baby Hope.

A year on, we had been getting more regular scans because of our experience of loss and due to this pregnancy being a multiple pregnancy. Everything was going well. A year to the day, on 3rd May 2019 I ended up back in hospital as something wasn’t right.

We found out that my cervix was opening. Words cannot describe how my husband and I felt when we heard. We had only just had our 20-week scan.  I remained in hospital after that and it became a waiting game.

On Sunday 12th May, Isla was born too early at 21 weeks and 4 days. We didn’t know if delivering her would unsettle her sister in her separate sac, but thankfully she remained happy where she was.

Aoife Iona was born on 18th June at a gestation of 26 weeks and 6 days. She is our little miracle baby. We always referred to her as a warrior which is why we chose her name.

Without the positivity of the bereavement nurses in the Labour ward we wouldn’t have gotten through the days.

The Sands support group in Ayrshire have erected a beautiful memorial tree in the hospital chapel. Both our girls Hope and Isla have their special places on the tree.

Ayrshire Sands are a proactive group who help many people to cope with their losses and I, along with my family, want to give something back. The Kiltwalk seemed like the perfect opportunity due to 50% extra being contributed.

My training has consisted of getting out with Aoife in the pram as much as possible. It’s not easy with a baby but the fresh air is great for both of us and I have always loved walking. I find it helps to clear your head from any stresses or worries.

I hope my story will encourage others to help Sands in the future.


Join Rhona and take on a Kiltwalk in 2020 - Sign up today to be part of #TeamSands.