Sands, the stillbirth and neonatal charity, is delighted to announce that actress Rakhee Thakrar, best known for playing EastEnders character Shabnam Masood, has become a Sands Ambassador.

The charity was first introduced to Rakhee ahead of a tragic storyline, which began airing in the BBC1 soap at the end of August 2015 that saw Shabnam’s baby son Zaair stillborn. Over several months of research for this role the actress gained an insight into what bereaved families go through when their baby dies and the devastating impact it has on their lives.

“I knew I wanted to be involved with Sands from my very first research meeting with Bereavement Support Services Manager Erica Stewart. I heard in great detail how complicated, devastating and utterly heart-breaking it is for your baby to die and in the months that followed I learned even more. I felt compelled to help in any way I could; it was an instinct and natural progression from working together on the storyline for EastEnders.

“I was touched and honoured when I was asked and agreed without hesitation. I look forward to working with the fantastic team at Sands.”

Judith Abela, Acting Chief Executive of Sands, said:

“We are so excited that Rakhee has very kindly agreed to become our newest Ambassador. Stillbirth is not rare and it’s a tragedy that can happen to anyone. Sadly thousands of babies die each year in the UK. In 2013, 110 babies were stillborn or died soon after birth every week. However it is something that is rarely talked about. So Rakhee will be invaluable in raising awareness of the many issues that surround stillbirth and neonatal death. Her dedication to encouraging people to talk about the death of their baby is extraordinary.”

For further details about Sands please see www.uk-sands.org.uk.

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For further information please Natalie Cooper, Sands Press and PR Officer, on 020 3598 1959 or media@uk-sands.org