Grieving Wigan couple's fund-raising transforms hospital baby bereavement suite

Rebecca and Tom Outterside
Rebecca and Tom Outterside

Following the loss of their twin daughters, Rebecca and Tom Outterside wanted to give back to the staff and hospital that cared for them during their heart-breaking bereavement..

The couple’s identical baby girls, Georgina Elizabeth (Georgie) and Harriette Rose (Hattie), were born at 22 weeks and two days old on last November 2 and the Swinley couple were looked after by the midwifery team at Wigan Infirmary.

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Teacher Rebecca said: “Tom and I were absolutely shell-shocked, heartbroken and devastated. I cannot put into words how we truly felt, we were lost. Our beautiful identical twin girls just arrived too soon.”

Rebecca, Tom and their families were able to spend time with the girls in the Pearl Suite on the hospital’s delivery ward, a quiet, private room where bereaved parents can spend time with their babies, and after their experience, they wanted to honour their daughters by helping the Wightington Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust to refurbish the room.

“During our stay the midwives and doctors took great care of myself, Tom, Georgina, Harriette and our families,” said Rebecca, “and despite the terrible experience, the Pearl Suite was such a special place for us.

“Although the circumstances were unimaginable, it was a memorable place and a safe-haven where we met Georgina and Harriette for the very first time.

"It was where we were able to spend some special moments with our beautiful girls; we were able to hold them, take photographs of them, dress them in their handmade clothes, introduce them to our parents and my sister Megan and make memories such as foot and handprints.”

When the couple returned home, they set up a GoFundMe page, where friends and family could donate to the refurbishment of the Pearl Suite, with an initial target of £500. The fund now stands at over £5,000.

“Our target was surpassed very, very quickly,” said Rebecca, “we are so grateful and touched by the kind and generous donations from our families and friends. To this day, we still cannot quite believe it.”

With the donations, Tom and Rebecca were able to have the room re-painted, new lights installed and purchased new bedspreads, throws, towels, armchairs, and a couch alongside countless other bits and pieces such as cutlery, crockery and toiletries that would come in handy for those using the room.

The couple also donated one of the Moses baskets they had bought in anticipation of their new arrivals and, following lessons from her neighbour, Sheila, Rebecca also knitted soothing squares which were donated to the Neonatal Ward, and blankets for the Pearl Suite.

The Pearl Suite had originally been renovated by Louise Hopwood and husband Chris in 2016, following the loss of their twin daughters, Peggy and Pearl. Following meetings with maternity matron, Audrey Livesey, and practice development midwife, Jo Birch, Tom and Rebecca met with Louise and her mum to talk about the renovation.

“The meeting was both a lovely and emotional experience,” said Rebecca, “it was really helpful to spend time talking to someone else who had experienced loss like ours and it gave Tom and I hope for the future.”

Louise, who is now mum to sons, Bertie and Bear, said; “It’s lovely to know that someone else has thought to revamp the room and Rebecca and Thomas have done such a great job – it’s so nice and calm in there, just the right environment.”

Jo, who was Rebecca’s midwife, said: “Both families have made such a massive impact for the women and their families who have, and may have to use this room.

“What they have given us during their most heart-breaking times is just incredible.”

To honour Georgina and Harriette and Peggy and Pearl, photographs of both sets of twins’ feet will be hung in the room and plaques will mark each renovation.

Rebecca added: “Even when the final funds have been spent, Tom and I would like to continue to help others who may sadly find themselves in our situation, as it is such a difficult and traumatic experience.

"I regularly keep up to date with the release of new books on the topics of grief and bereavement and I would really like to donate these to the hospital in memory of Georgina and Harriette.”

If you would like to donate to the GoFundMe page it can be found at https://uk.gofundme.com/in-memory-of-georgina-and-harriette.