An Earlston family are making a marathon effort to fund a memory project as a tribute to their son.
Marie and Keith Briggs have launched the Joe’s Toes campaign with Children’s Hospices Across Scotland (CHAS) following the death of their baby boy of that name last year.
The project will give bereaved parents the opportunity to make 3D baby hand and foot-casts, with money raised by the fundraising team allowing the charity to buy the materials required.
Although that sort of memory-making has generally been offered by CHAS within hospices, it hadn’t previously been done in neonatal units.
Joe’s Toes will provide another opportunity for parents to make precious lasting memories following the deaths of their babies.
Marie, Keith and big sister Rosie welcomed identical twin boys, born eight weeks early on February 15, 2018.
Thomas was born first, shortly before his twin brother Joseph, stillborn as a result of twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome.
Tommy was cared for both in the special care baby unit at the Borders General Hospital in Melrose and the neonatal intensive care unit at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary for five weeks before being judged well enough to go home.
Whilst in the latter, his parents, both 36, met CHAS nurse Evelyn Rodger, and she provided support to the family while Tommy was in intensive care.
Part of Evelyn’s role is to provide bereavement support and to help parents find ways to create precious lasting memories with their babies, and she helped facilitate a cast of Joe’s foot, a memento which now means so much to the family.
Marie, an administrative assistant, said: “We feel privileged that Evelyn was there to support us in making cherished memories with Joe and with saying goodbye with no regrets.
“As part of the memory-making process, we asked if she would be able to help us take 3D casts of Joe’s feet, and she was more than willing to help us in any way she could.
“Joe’s cast is now one of our most cherished possessions. To be able to physically touch, hold, see something that was exactly his is so very precious.”
Now the Briggs are determined to raise enough money to enable CHAS to buy materials required so that other families can make 3D baby hand and foot casts in Joe’s name, with family and friends set to tackle a number of challenges over the coming months in a bid to raise £5,000 to fund the scheme.
Keith, along with his brother and sister-in-law Calum and Holly Briggs, cousin Ross Glendinning, Marie’s sister Laura Wilkinson and their friend Janice Robison will run the Edinburgh half-marathon on Sunday, May 26.
Family members and well-wishers have also signed up to tackle the Tour de Lauder 89-mile cycling challenge followed by an 11-mile run to the Borders General Hospital, the Great North Run from South Shields to Newcastle and the Loch Ness Marathon.
A ladies’ cocktail night has also been organised for the summer.
“Our little Joe has given us, and now other families, so much without even being here,” Marie said. “He never drew breath but he has changed us forever. He has reminded us all of how precious and fragile life can be.
“Every day is a challenge, but he has already shown us that we have a strength within us individually and as a family that can move mountains.”
Fiona Leslie, a community fundraiser at CHAS, said: “We can’t thank Marie, Keith and their family and friends enough for taking on this awesome summer of fundraisers for this particularly special project.
“The funds they raise and this idea in itself will help bring comfort to so many families. It’s a lovely legacy for their little boy.”
To support the family’s efforts, go to give.everydayhero.com/uk/joe-s-toes