On 24 April 2016 around 70 people, all of whom have been affected by the death of a baby, will be hitting the streets of the capital in this year’s Virgin Money London Marathon.

Sands, the stillbirth and neonatal death charity, works to support families devastated by the death of a baby before, during, or shortly after birth, and improve the care they receive as well as promoting research and changes in practice that could help to reduce the loss of babies’ lives.

To do this they rely on the generosity of fundraisers and supporters to continue their vital work.

Stillbirth and neonatal death are not rare events. In 2014, around 5600 babies died just before, during or soon after birth.  That’s over 100 babies every week.

It’s a tragedy that can happen to anyone and at anytime. It’s devastating not just for parents, but also for grandparents, siblings, other children, aunts and uncles, friends, work colleagues and health professionals such as midwives who have cared for parents and babies that have died.

Team Sands will see more runners than the charity has ever had before take on the 26.2 mile run.

Louise Ellis is one of the charity’s runners. Her daughter Joanna Ellis was stillborn on 22nd May 1996.

“Our beautiful daughter Joanna was stillborn almost twenty years ago; she was perfect in every way. Holding her in my arms was the hardest, yet most cherished moment of my life. Not a day passes without me thinking about Joanna; her birthdays, her first day at school, Christmases, taking her GCSEs, driving test, family holidays.  The list is endless, and will continue to grow over the years.

“But for me, it important to look forward, and to do something positive to remember Joanna. Without Sands, I am not sure where I would be...  so it is now an opportunity for me to give something back to this incredible charity and at the same time remember our daughter.  

“I believe she will be with me every step of the way, and I will certainly smile as I run the 26.2 mile course safe in the knowledge I am raising money for a cause which means the world to me”, said Louise.   

To find out more about the charity please visit: https://www.uk-sands.org