Inspirational mum channels grief into formidable fundraiser in memory of baby boy
An inspirational mum has channelled her grief from losing her unborn baby into completing a formidable fundraising challenge in aid of a charity which provided vital support to her and her family in the aftermath of the tragedy.
Lucy Judge, 43, of West Park, Leeds, lost her baby boy Frankie in September, 16 weeks into her pregnancy, after doctors discovered at the 12-week scan that he was seriously ill and subsequent scans confirmed he would sadly not survive.
As she and her family, including husband Nick and their sons Archie, nine, and Freddie, seven, struggled with their heartbreak, Lucy said the charity Sands were there for them every step of the way.
So as a way of repaying the charity, and in memory of Frankie, Lucy set herself the incredible task of running 16km - roughly ten miles - every day for 16 days in a row.
And on Sunday, she crossed the finish line for the final time, cheered on by friends and family and having raised over £4,000 for Sands.
She said: “Until you go through something like this, you don’t know these charities exist. And actually without them, I would have felt so lost. I just felt like I wanted to do something for them.
“I do a lot of running anyway - I’m a personal trainer, so exercise is a big part of my life. For me, running is therapy. This helped give me focus while also doing something worthwhile for the charity which helped me.”
Lucy said being told her baby would not survive was “pain I have never felt in my life”.
“We were given the option to let the pregnancy continue to its natural end but of course they couldn’t put a time on that and the longer that goes on, the harder it would be to deliver. And the longer I carry the baby, the more attached I’d become.
“The other option would be to end the pregnancy myself. Which was the decision we made in the end. And Sands, from the very outset, were there to support us through it.”
The couple were given a memory box which contained items including twin teddies - one which would stay with the baby and be cremated, and the other to take home and keep.
Lucy said this provided much comfort to the family, especially for her boys who take turns to sleep with it each night.
Lucy said one of the hardest things has been dealing with her children’s grief.
“My boys were so excited when we told them I was expecting. Then to tell them their new brother or sister wasn’t coming any more and had had to go straight to heaven...”
She said Sands provided invaluable advice on how to help the boys through it as well as helplines for her to ring should she need extra support - which she used.
“It was nice to talk to someone that’s just a bit more outside and understands what you’re going through.
“For me, I think I was taken aback and quite surprised by just how traumatic it was. It is a brutal experience.
“When you go to hospital, you go into labour and you deliver a baby but you come home with nothing.
“Even though I know people experience far worse - people much further on with their pregnancies than I was. But even at 16 weeks, you have pictured that baby in your family, in every room of our house, pictured the boys helping to change nappies.
“And then that’s taken away from you.
“You come out of the hospital and there’s nothing. I was taken aback by how much it affected me.”
Lucy said a large part of her motivation to raise money for Sands was to help others facing similar, devastating circumstances and thinking of those less fortunate.
“People go through this and don’t have children or go on to have children.
“I’m very fortunate that I already have two healthy children already. I feel what I have done is for people that are in an even worse situation.”
Nevertheless, Lucy - who has previously run marathons and climbed Kilimanjaro - said this fundraising challenge was the “hardest” she had faced.
“There were days when I woke up and thought ‘What have I set myself?’.
“But mentally I’m a strong person and once I’ve said I’m doing something… I knew from day one that I would complete it.”
Each day, Lucy’s runs took her around Leeds - seeing a lot of flat Kirkstall Road when her knees struggled - and was supported along the way by friends and family who she said “popped up” daily to run or cycle alongside.
And thinking of Frankie helped her through, she said.
“I have talked to Frankie on some of the runs when I was struggling. I would look up and have a word and say to myself ‘Come on Frankie, we have got this.”
She said reaching the end of her goal and now back to reality has been tough, mentally.
“I prepared myself for a crash at the end. This has given me focus but the reality is my baby is still not here with us - it’s not changed anything in that respect.
“But it’s definitely helped me feel better when I was doing it. And I’m further along in the process now. It probably got me through what would have been a much rougher patch.
“I feel proud of what I’ve achieved. I’m really glad I did it. I certainly have no regrets, despite the aches and pains.”
To sponsor Lucy, and help her beat her £5,000 target, visit https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/lucy-judge3**According to Sands, every day in the UK around 14 babies die before, during or soon after birth. That means nearly every two hours a family is faced with the devastation of the death of their baby.
Sands works to reduce the number of babies dying and to improve care and support for anyone affected by the death of a baby.
For more information, visit https://sands.org.uk/Support the YEP and become a subscriber today. Enjoy unlimited access to local news and the latest on Leeds United, With a digital subscription, you see fewer ads, enjoy faster load times, and get access to exclusive newsletters and content. Click here to subscribe.