My name is Alex, and I’m Gus’ Daddy. I am writing to you to share our story and a little of the impact of Gus’ very short life. From the moment we found out that our baby Gus wasn’t going to live, everything stopped. Looking back now, I never realised just how much we were going to depend on the support and comfort we received from Sands.

For us, everything about Gus’ approaching birth had started off fine. My wife Sarah was glowing and Gus was due in just a few days. Then suddenly one day she felt a sharp, excruciating pain in her tummy and we were rushed to hospital.

We didn’t know what had gone wrong – to this day we still don’t know why Gus died – but that was the beginning of our awful rollercoaster of emotions. Sarah and I had absolutely no idea what to do. We were scared and bewildered. Being forced to hear news so bad we couldn’t take it in. We just couldn’t comprehend it and we were hoping against hope that what we were being told wasn’t true.

The midwives were brilliant. They took us into a bereavement room and put Gus in something called a cold cot. To us he just looked like he was sleeping. They left us to be with him for as long as we needed, and we spent that night – Boxing Day 2016 – cuddling him, crying, kissing him over and over. We then started the long journey of trying to come to terms with his passing.

Having that time with him, looking at his face and holding his hands and feet, gave us the few memories that we hold on to and treasure dearly.

In the days that followed, I walked around in a daze. The hospital had given us Sands’ details, and we decided to go to our local group. It was the first time we were really able to talk about our loss. It helped so much just talking about Gus with others, it made us feel as though we weren’t so alone – that we weren’t the only ones. So I started writing a diary as if I was talking to Gus, and it began to help me.

Dear Gus

We decided to attend another Sands meeting a couple of weeks later, and again the people there were very understanding. A man described how he talked to his daughter who’d died, when he visited a Sands memorial garden, which helped make things a little easier for him. That was something significant that I took away.

At the school where I work, we arranged for me to talk to the children at an assembly. One of the boys went home, told his dad all about Gus, and the next day I received a really lovely email from the dad. I’ve shared those special encounters with Gus through my diary, and I’ve even been able to organise a 50-hour non-stop bike ride in Gus’ memory, bringing people together all wearing Sands jerseys. Having Sands there, by our sides, has meant everyone has special memories of Gus now, not just us.

I don’t know where we would be now without Sands. Not only did they provide us with a Memory Box where we keep Gus’ blanket, toy bunny and a lock of his hair, but the support they’ve provided to us through the meetings has helped us to cope together and amongst our friends, family and work colleagues too.

We’ve decided to support Sands in Gus’ memory to ensure something positive comes from our loss.

Gus and his family

People really haven’t a clue what it’s like to lose a baby. The people involved at Sands, however, do understand how difficult it is for the parents. I found that having the Sands booklets and Helpline number to hand out to family, friends and colleagues took some of the unbearable pressure off us. I didn’t have to find the answers, they could speak to someone at Sands to help.

The comfort Sands gives can mean the difference between coping and not having anywhere to turn.  But Sands can only be there with our support. Gus has a big brother, Arthur, who’s nearly three. For him, Gus will always be missing and as he grows up I want Sands to be there for him too.

Please help Sands give other families the support they need by making a regular gift today.

Thank you so much.

Alex Churcher, Gus’ Daddy.

"It's because of kind people like you that Sands were there for us when our baby boy Gus died. That's why we are making this appeal in his memory. Perhaps you can give a gift in memory of your own baby, grandbaby, niece or nephew, or all the previous babies who have died. You can help Sands be there for more families when they really need them. Thank you."

Please help Sands give other families the support they need by making a regular gift today