The Sands Volunteer Awards Ceremony was held at the Sands Garden Day, at the National Memorial Arboretum on Saturday, 22 June.

All winners were presented with an engraved trophy and a certificate signed by Sands CEO, Clea Harmer and Sands Director of Volunteering and Bereavement Support, Jen Coates.

The winners of the Volunteer Awards 2024:

Astra Shipton & Hayley Vallance - Support Award

For the care, consideration, and dedication Astra and Hayley show to bereaved families in their area and across the 3 counties they do activity in.

Astra and Hayley approach the support they provide as a group holistically, organising massage sessions for bereaved parents and setting up other activity like the Starlight Walk. And of course for their incredible teamwork.


Astra Shipton

Bhavna and Vijay Bhargava - Pinncale Award

For the breadth and depth of Bhavna and Vijay Bhargava's involvement with Sands, from the videos and campaigns that they have so generously starred in, to the personal stories they have shared in the media, becoming a befriender and HLV, their involvement in the South Asian Support Groups, Roundtable, and the Listening Project.


Emma Sheppard - Dedication Award

For the determination to keep Chesterfield Sands running and being the local support bereaved families need; often single-handedly managing all the behind the scenes needs of the group, as well as befriending.

Emma's commitment to Chesterfield Sands and bereaved families in her area is outstanding. Emma organises ribbon displays for Baby Loss Awareness Week, Wave of Light services, craft events and displays in the local community so families have a variety of ways to receive support.


Hayden Newbigen - Awareness Award

For Hayden's immense dedication to running Sands United FC Grimsby and Cleethorpes team and ensuring that all players are included, can remember their baby, and have community support through their grief. 

And for his commitment to making sure as many people as possible know about Sands, Sands United FC Grimsby and Cleethorpes, and join him to be part of the supportive community he has created.


Hayley Vallance & Astra Shipton - Support Award

For the care, consideration, and dedication Hayley and Astra show to bereaved families in their area and across the 3 counties they do activity in.

Hayley and Astra approach the support they provide as a group holistically, organising massage sessions for bereaved parents and setting up other activity like the Starlight Walk. And of course for their incredible teamwork.


James Thompson - Innovation Award

For always looking for new ways to support parents so no matter what style of support a parent might be looking for, including craft events, coffee mornings and even a lending library, it is there for them.

And for all that James does to raise awareness of Sands and the support we provide, through market stalls, attending events to represent Sands, ribbon displays, and his work with healthcare professionals.


Martin Euden - Partnership Award

For passionately sharing Sands with his colleagues and inspiring them to join him in picking up the knitting needles and making a huge impact for bereaved families.

Not only did Martin teach himself to knit, but he taught colleagues too, giving advice and encouragement to all, and welcoming all abilities to join what those who nominated him call the 'Centrica Sands Knitting Community'.


Michelle Howard - Innovation Award

For the effort Michelle has put into creating different events for bereaved families to take part in so that they can get support in the format that works for them.

The craft sessions, Wave of Light events, her involvement in the creation of a Bereavement Suite at the South West Acute Hospital and the Light of Love service, all of this provides much needed connection and community for parents.


Patricia Craig - Pinncale Award

For an incredible 25 years of volunteering with Sands, her deep sense of compassion and warm nature with the parents she have supported over the years. 

Over this time Patricia has been involved with all aspects of Sands' activity in Glasgow, all the services and events she has organised, the connections she has built with midwives and vicars, her involvement in organising the ball, all to raise awareness of Sands and make sure bereaved parents and families can access the local support Glasgow Sands so diligently provides.

Raj Chagger - Leadership Award

For being an inspiring leader of Sands United FC Nottingham. 

In 12 months of Sands United FC Nottingham, Raj has brought in new players, going out of his way to make sure players feel part of the team and supported in their experience of bereavement. 

All next to organising matches, raising money, and raising awareness of the team and Sands. The team players described Raj as a role model and because of him, his players no longer have to experience their grief alone.


Ruth Mason - Dedication Award

For her determination in setting up the Merthyr Sands group, driven by ensuring parents in the area still have access to local support and community after the previous group closed. 

During tough times for other South Wales groups, Ruth warmly opened the door for those parents to join her for the face to face meetings she was determined to keep going, all to ensure bereaved parents in her community have a special place to connect and remember their babies.


Find out how you can get involved with Volunteering at Sands. 

Thank you to every one who nominated a Volunteer for an award. We had so many amazing nominations come through, from all across the UK. 

And a special thank you to the Volunteers who were part of the nomination board, who helped choose the winners for 2024.

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