A FAMILY supported by an Oxfordshire stillbirth charity through its darkest hour has raised more than £50,000 to support its ongoing work.

On August 25 last year, George Blackwell was born at Oxford's John Radcliffe Hospital, having died in the womb about four days previously.

Almost one year on mother Grace Blackwell and husband Michael decided to throw a pub shindig in their son's memory on behalf of Oxfordshire Sands.

Mrs Blackwell, 33, of Worminghall on the Buckinghamshire border, said the ordeal had been 'not the best' but the family had rallied in the face of it.

She said: "We are alright. Because we are both from farming families we have been doing Mother Nature's work and know things don't always work out."

In the aftermath Oxfordshire's stillbirth and neonatal death charity Sands provided Mrs Blackwell, her husband and two-year-old daughter Alice valuable support.

'Sands packs' and memory boxes distributed to bereaved parents at the John Radcliffe Hospital offering advice, guidance and details on how to contact a counsellor.

Mrs Blackwell said: "They were in touch pretty much straight away but just to say 'We're here'; I have a counsellor I speak to over email.

"There was nothing wrong with George in all the tests; it was unexplained. Five babies a day die after 24 weeks of gestation or in the first weeks of their life.

"The main reason for having the party Sands party is they also fund research into the causes of stillbirth."

Almost a year after the tragedy the family got together with friends to organise 'A Night at The George', creating a pop-up pub inside the family barn.

Hundreds of people filled the marquee on Saturday, June 10 to prop up the bar, enjoy a hog roast, dance to live bands and take part in a huge charity auction.

Among the prizes on offer was a tour of the Bugatti factory in France, gifted by Mr Blackwell's former employers, which went for £25,000 on the night.

Overall £50,500 was raised for Oxfordshire Sands. Mrs Blackwell said: "It's crazy. SANDS were overjoyed. With help, hard work and determination, anything is possible.

"One of the other reasons for having the party was to people them a night out and to say thank you. It was also a closure thing. We'll never forget George but life goes on."

Karen Hancox, a fundraising co-ordinator for Oxfordshire Sands, said: "The fantastic outcome of Grace’s fundraising in support of Sands will help us to continue supporting bereaved families in the local area. We are a volunteer-led group who rely totally on donations to carry out our work.

"We send our best wishes to Grace’s family and thank her for her outstanding support in memory of George. June is Sands Awareness Month and our aim is for people to know that 15 babies die before, during or shortly after birth in the UK every single day. Fifteen babies too many."