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Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is something most of us can’t fathom, but sadly for hundreds of parents each year in the UK, it’s a reality.

Local couple Jennifer and Chris Reid tragically lost their first born child in 2014 and subsequently set up a the charity Teddy’s Wish to offer support to other bereaved parents whilst raising funds for much needed research into SIDS, stillbirth and neonatal death.

We spoke to Jennifer to find out more about SIDS, the charity and it’s support services – and how we can get involved.

You set up Teddy’s Wish after tragically losing your first bon child in 2014 to SIDS. What made you want to start the charity after his passing?

In the early hours of April 16th 2014, we experienced every parent’s worst nightmare. In an instant, our perfect family of three was torn apart. Our beautiful healthy baby boy Eddie, who was only three months old, died suddenly and unexpectedly. On every medical test possible Eddie was perfectly healthy and there was no reason, or attributable cause, as to why he left us. The why’s and unanswered questions became the driving force in setting up our charity, Teddy’s Wish. The charity is also my way of still being able to parent Eddie in some way and to give meaning to his short life with us.

What type of support does Teddy’s Wish provide to families who have lost a child either to SIDS, stillbirth or neonatal death?

In 2017 we launched our first annual bereavement retreat: Reflect, Restore, Renew for bereaved parents. The retreat is fully funded by Teddy’s Wish, the only one of it’s kind in the UK and it allows parents to take time out for themselves, to connect with other bereaved parents and share their child’s story and legacy. It takes place in a beautiful retreat house in Frieth, Buckinghamshire and the weekend includes sessions such as group therapy, yoga and mindfulness meditation. As a small charity we also partner with other leading baby loss charities to help fund their bereavement services. This allows families access to 24 hr support lines and group support. 

How do you raise money for the charity?

We raise money through lots of different events which are either organised by individuals who have connected to us through their own grief journey and may take part in a marathon for example to honour their baby, or friends who have been impacted by our story and want to fundraise on our behalf. We also run our own events and hosted a big black tie dinner a couple of years ago. We are incredibly humbled by the support we have received so far and amazed at how many people have connected to us through social media.

Have you got any fund-raising events planned for the future? 

We have a few events in the next few months.The David Lloyd Club in Finchley is kindly hosting and sponsoring a tennis tournament and the team at Ride And Raise will be running an all day spinathon there too. We are also going to be hosting an exclusive film screening event at The Everyman Cinema in Kings Cross in June – more details on the event and the opportunity to buy tickets will be on our website soon.

How can people get involved?

We are a small family run charity that relies on the generosity of people’s time or services so we are always on the look out for volunteers! Most importantly, it would be so appreciated if you could follow us on social media and help us create more awareness. Of course, if anyone would like to fundraise on our behalf we would love that too!

Have you found the process of helping other parents cathartic in any way?

Absolutely. The charity is about giving something back to others and doing something meaningful in Eddie’s name. Sadly, the charity won’t bring Eddie back but our hope is that it will help others and make him proud of his mummy and daddy.

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Jennifer & Chris Reid

Have you found ongoing research is getting any closer to finding out the cause of SIDS?

When we started the charity we were desperate, broken and confused. We needed an answer or explanation as to why Eddie could have been taken from us without explanation. Research was the route to that answer. In 2016, the latest year of record , 219 babies were lost to SIDS. This is 219 too many and we hold out hope that we can reduce this figure further and continue to search for answers. We started our charity focussed on SIDS because that was how we lost Eddie, but we quickly came to realise that many other families are devastated through the loss of their infant or baby through other forms of baby loss. For example, we also recognise that the U.K. has intolerably high numbers of stillbirths every year. Close to 4,000. So we see a real opportunity to make a difference here as well. Most of all though we realise that as much as we would like a miracle cure the likelihood is that every year 1000s of families will be devastated through the loss of their baby to SIDS, stillbirth and neo-natal death. Each and every one of these families desperately need love, support and care, and that is why we have made bereavement Support so central to our work alongside research.

We’re really pleased you made us aware of your services so we can pass it on to our readers. How can people get in touch with you if they feel they need support?

We are happy to speak to anyone who has been impacted by the loss of a child – they can contact me directly by emailing jennifer@teddyswish.org or through our twitter, Facebook or Instagram pages.

How do you manage (if at all) to balance the charity, work and home life?

Haha good question! It’s a hard balancing act but I try and run the charity as if I am looking after 3 children. We have two younger siblings for Eddie: Ollie who is 3 and Chloe who is 1 years old. I parent Ollie and Chloe in one way and I parent Eddie through Teddy’s Wish. It’s a juggling act – it means lots of long nights and lots of caffeine!

Lastly, we can’t let you go without asking what you love most about living in Kensal Rise?

I love the fact that we have everything on our door step and I love the choice of parks for the kids. The community feel is great  and we are so lucky to have the choice of cafes, pubs and restaurants. My favourite’s are Gracelands and The Chamberlayne.

 

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