KAREN Hancox and her husband Neil were shattered when their first daughter Kayleigh was stillborn in 2007.

On Sunday they will join other parents who have lost babies at a special service of remembrance in Oxford.

A part-time teacher at Bloxham Primary School, Mrs Hancox, 34, from Banbury, will always consider herself a mother-of-three. But her first child, Kayleigh, never opened her eyes.

Mrs Hancox said: “Kayleigh was born dead on November 4, 2007, while fireworks were exploding outside.

“It had been a textbook pregnancy and we had a nursery waiting for us at home. But we went home empty-handed and still don’t know why Kayleigh died just a few days before her due date. Immense joy turned to our worst nightmare and overwhelming pain.”

Since then she has given birth to daughter Charleigh Grace, almost three, and son Konnor, 16 months, Mrs Hancox added: “My husband Neil and I received a great deal of support from the charity Oxfordshire Sands (Stillbirth and Neonatal Death) after Kayleigh’s death.

“We went on to raise money for the charity in memory of Kayleigh in 2008, setting up the Angel Gifts Appeal, which raised nearly £13,000, and led to us funding a baby memorial at the Snowdrop Garden at Hardwick Hill Crematorium.

“We also donated a foetal heart monitor to The Horton Hospital’s maternity unit.”

Oxfordshire Sands provides a befriending service for parents who have lost babies and also provides memory boxes for parents when leaving the Horton and Oxford’s John Radcliffe Hospital. The charity is totally reliant on donations.

Mrs Hancox became a befriender for Oxfordshire Sands and is now co-chairman of the charity.

Mrs Hancox said: “Each year Sands holds a Baby Remembrance Service for bereaved parents, their families and friends.

“This year it will be held on Sunday, at 2.30pm at St Anthony of Padua Church, in Headley Way, Headington.

“It’s an important way for parents, who have shared this terrible loss, to come together to celebrate and remember their precious babies with poems, personal experiences and music. The service is open to all and is a mixture of secular and religious content to make it as inclusive as possible. There’s also an opportunity to light candles and display stars for all our babies.”

About 250 people attend the service each year.

Mrs Hancox added: “We would like to invite people to attend the service and also to find out more and lend their support to Sands.

“Grief following the death of a child is like no other. No-one expects their child to die before them but Sands is there to help people through it.”

  • For more information about Sands, email info@oxfordshiresands.org.uk or visit oxfordshiresands.org.uk