Matt and Emma were supported by Child Bereavement UK following the death of their 9½ week old daughter, Nyah, in 2012 and subsequent miscarriage of their second daughter, Skye, in 2013. Matt runs the Let’s Rock Festivals of which Child Bereavement UK is a beneficiary. Matt and Emma have been nominated to be Child Bereavement UK 21 Champions in recognition of their dedication to raising awareness and funds for the charity so that other parents can access support after the death of a child.

1_4t-me-smith-1-250x375Matt:

I am co-owner of the Let’s Rock Festivals which came about in 2009 starting on a small scale as Let’s Rock the Moor, part of the Cookham Festival of Arts, to raise funds for local charities. It has grown since then and now includes commercial events: Let’s Rock Bristol, Leeds, Southampton, Exeter and London. I’m also co-owner of Penn Fest for which CBUK will be the official charity partner for 2015. This year the Festivals will aim to reach approximately 100,000 attendees.

After all the help and support from Child Bereavement UK, I wanted to give something back. We chose them as one of the charities to benefit from Rock the Moor in 2014 along with local charities The Link Foundation and Wooden Spoon.

Through our other festivals, CBUK is our official charity partner and I hope to make people aware of the support they offer. Last year we raised £30,000 for Child Bereavement UK. With three additional events in 2015, the target this year is £50,000.The festivals are all 80s themed and are really family-friendly with an audience of mostly 35-55 year olds. We have Child Bereavement UK volunteers there raising awareness, and we produce a co-branded CBUK Let’s Rock wristband and sold about 6,000 last year. We also hold a silent auction at each festival.

I think Child Bereavement UK is a really important charity. It did so much to help me and Emma after the loss of Nyah. If it wasn’t for Sue at Child Bereavement UK, I don’t think we would have lasted in our relationship. Talking openly to Sue was invaluable, I honestly don’t know where we would be without the help and support CBUK gave us. I wanted to help pay back the support that didn’t cost us anything, and I’d like to think that other people going through our situation would be able to have that support. There are so many people who don’t know the service is available. I just want to make people aware of Child Bereavement UK and that they can help.

Emma:

Our daughter, Nyah, was born prematurely in Wexham Park neonatal unit at 25½ weeks weighing 1 pound 10 ounces. The wonderful staff there looked after her and my family for 9½ weeks. Nyah was transferred to the John Radcliffe where they were able to confirm that Nyah had the disease necrotising enterocolitis (NEC). After 3 days in Oxford, Nyah passed away in ours arms. We are grateful for the time we had with our special baby girl.

Because Nyah was born prematurely, her organs hadn’t matured as much as they should have. Nyah fought every day she was alive. She was so strong and, being the sickest baby in the unit, she amazed us all. She had lots of ups and down yet kept on coming through; it was incredible she survived for 9 ½ weeks. After Nyah passed away, I was given a list of support numbers. I was desperate to talk to somebody and felt really isolated and alone – I felt alienated by what had happened. I phoned Child Bereavement UK and made an appointment. We met Sue and she completely changed our lives around. I have Sue to thank for the fact that I am still married to Matt – I honestly feel that we would have split up otherwise. We just couldn’t communicate, we were grieving in such different ways, pushing each other away. I was trying to get support from Matt but he just couldn’t do it – he didn’t realise how painful it was for me when I needed a cuddle and he couldn’t because we were both in pain. Child Bereavement UK helped us bridge the messy paths we were on and I can’t thank them enough. It seems something so simple, to communicate – when it’s done right – but when it’s not, it can cause so much heartache and pain and can ruin a relationship.

Nyah died on 23rd February 2012. It was the hardest thing, wanting to try for a baby again, and I needed time. Then in 2013 I fell pregnant. I was so ecstatic to be pregnant again. Sue had said we may still want to continue having support as a second pregnancy can be difficult after you’ve lost a child. Then at my 16 week check up, they couldn’t find a heartbeat. And at hospital I miscarried our baby. We called her Skye and had to make the decision about burying her. Nyah is buried in a lovely place, we call it her special garden, and we had Skye buried alongside her.

I also have a little boy, Taylor who is 5 in March. It was very hard; when I was pregnant with Nyah, I was fainting a lot, so Taylor had to endure quite a lot of mummy being away in hospital suddenly and very ill. Taylor visited Nyah in hospital and drew pictures for her which we stuck on the side of the incubator. Taylor says a prayer for her every night, and on bonfire night he said “Look Daddy, the fireworks are going up to Nyah’s home!”

Sue at Child Bereavement UK has given Taylor lots of books and we speak about Nyah all the time. Nyah is still a part of our family, along with Skye, and they always will be. Sue has helped us to help and support Taylor so much. Taylor’s life was very unsettled when we lost Nyah and then Skye; however he has a far greater understanding of death and has become confident and very loving to his family. Taylor is a lovely little boy. He absolutely adores his baby brother because he wanted a baby so much. Having Harley (now 5 months old) has opened up a new chapter for us. I often hear Taylor talking and telling Harley about his sisters who are in Heaven now.

When I think about Nyah I think about how she has strengthened our family. We didn’t appreciate each other before as much as we do now. We are a much stronger unit and we don’t take each other for granted; we spend more time together. Matt has chosen a job and lifestyle which allows us to spend more time together as a family, which is priceless.

When I read Child Bereavement UK’s line ‘Rebuilding Lives Together’ I just think, that is so true! It really does rebuild lives. Losing Nyah was a physical pain. It hurts. It is so, so painful. My heart was broken into thousands of pieces, I couldn’t see how it would ever end; I couldn’t see beyond it. With the help of Child Bereavement UK, piece by piece, it has been put back together.

You can still see the pieces, but they have rebuilt our lives. I see Sue as part of our family, she’s been there, and been through it with us on the journey. I have so many amazing things to say about my daughter Nyah. The time with my precious daughter changed minute by minute and hour by hour. I have so many memories and it’s incredible that, thanks to Nyah, we are part of Child Bereavement UK. Matt being able to help raise money for the charity with his work has been brilliant to see and be a part of, as it’s all in memory of Nyah.

The work Child Bereavement UK does is absolutely priceless – I feel so safe there, I could say absolutely anything and open up, and Matt could too. We could say things to Sue that we were unable to say to anyone else. Our family is a testament to Sue and Child Bereavement UK’s wonderful work.