A couple who sadly lost their baby have raised thousands of pounds to create a ‘quiet room’ for families at Royal Bolton Hospital.
Baby Maya suffered a heart defect in January 2020, and since then her parents Emilie and Ashley Thomas have sought to keep Maya’s legacy alive by fundraising to create a special space that would make a difference for other families who experience difficult antenatal choices, or baby loss.
The two of them have created the perfect room for discussing difficult news and next steps, featuring calming art canvases, comfortable sofas and heartfelt words that aim to support and offer hope to parents.
Emilie and Ashley said:
Having a safe, warm and comforting space, away from the clinical hospital environment, to give parents difficult news can make the world of difference to their experience.
“When we first found out about Maya’s heart defect, this room didn’t exist. There was nowhere appropriate to deliver painful news to parents following an ultrasound scan. I could immediately see how needed it was to allow parents to feel seen, and reassure them that they’re in the best place for advice and support.
“We both hope this space will make sure experiences for other parents facing difficult antenatal choices are less painful than they already have to be. We are so proud, and thankful for, the support from our friends, family and the community have given us in fundraising and decorating the room.
“Using our loss to help other parents will ensure our daughter’s name lives on.
The room has been named ‘The Pebble Room’, after Emilie and Ashley inspired communities in and around Bolton and Bury to decorate pebbles in Maya’s name during the first COVID lockdown.
People then walked a ‘Mile for Maya’ to hide or place their pebble somewhere beautiful, before donating what they could to the JustGiving page.
A message written by the parents is on display in the room, which reads: “We’re so sorry you’ve found yourself here. But please know, a whole community is there for you, whatever your next steps are.”
Emilie and Ashley also received the support of Hits Radio presenter Gemma Atkinson, who shared the couple’s fundraiser on social media after giving birth to her daughter, Mia, at Royal Bolton Hospital in 2019.
Janet Cotton, Director of Midwifery at Bolton NHS Foundation Trust, said:
We are extremely grateful to Emilie and Ash for their generosity and can’t thank them enough for helping us to create a dedicated space that families can access when receiving difficult news. The room will make the world of difference to families within our care.
“We hope The Pebble Room will be a space of safety and sanctuary as we sit down with families to offer them the care and support they need.
For information on how you can support patients, families and staff at Bolton NHS Foundation Trust, visit the Our Bolton NHS Charity pages of the website.