A SOCIALLY distanced memorial event for babies lost in miscarriage, or who died in infancy, is being held this week in Fermanagh.

The Enniskillen branch of Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Society (SANDS) are holding a week-long, socially distanced memorial event for all the babies who were lost before, during or shortly after birth.

The memorial event will be held outside at the main church doors at St. Michael’s Church, Enniskillen in order to maintain social distancing, with the event being held to mark Baby Loss Awareness Week, which runs from October 9- 15.

The SANDS group have placed a memory tree where parents and family members are invited to come along in their own time and place a heart upon the tree with their baby's name on it to remember them.

The decoration will be provided, and there will also be a candle which will burn throughout the entirety of Baby Loss Awareness week.

They were assisted in setting up the event by Steven Guy, SANDS co-ordinator for Northern Ireland, and Fr. Raymond Donnelly, of St. Michael’s Parish.

Michelle Howards a, member of SANDS in Enniskillen, spoke about the events. She said: “Normally each year we run an event at Enniskillen Castle.

"This year, due to everything that is going on, we have decided to encourage people not to gather, but we felt it vitally important to still do something for bereaved parents.

"We feel the event we have come up with is safer for everyone, as people can come and go as they please during the week. We also urge people to join the National Wave of Light that will happen on October 15 at 7pm.

“People are encouraged to light a candle wherever they are to remember all those babies that parents have lost during pregnancy, or shortly after birth," she said.

Michelle and her husband, Glen, became involved in the organisation in 2017, after they lost their twins, Francis and Ronan.

She said: “My husband and I lost little twins in 2017 - Francis at 10 weeks, through miscarriage, and Ronan was born sleeping on August 19, 2017.

"SANDS have been a lifeline to us, and I try so hard to raise as much awareness [of them] as possible, as it's vitally important to remember our babies.

“The charity was set up to support parents who have lost a baby at any stage of pregnancy, and those who have had a little baby born sleeping, or who die shortly after birth.

"No matter what gestation your baby was, the support they give parents is so vitally important, as baby loss is a difficult subject to speak about.

"Everyone that is involved with SANDS is a bereaved parent, so they know exactly how you are feeling, and what you are going through if you’re a bereaved parent," said Michelle.

The group is also running a fundraiser for the month of October. Some members of the organisation, which has branches across the UK, are planning to help walk 310,000 steps a day.

Anyone can take part to raise awareness and funds for the charity, to enable SANDS to continue with its work to support bereaved parents.

If you would like support in dealing with miscarriage or baby loss, you can contact SANDS at northernireland@sands.org.uk, or call the befriender team at 0774 099 3450.