Help needed to set up Hastings stillbirth support group

Dawne and Ian Braine's family at the cemetery together celebrating George's birthday
Dawne and Ian Braine's family at the cemetery together celebrating George's birthday

A Hastings bereaved couple are appealing for volunteers to help set up a support group to help others who have lost their baby.

Dawne and Ian Braine lost their son George after he was born prematurely in May, 2011.

Dawne and Ian Braine visiting George's grave after they got married in July, 2013

Dawne and Ian Braine visiting George's grave after they got married in July, 2013

The pair found there were no support groups in the area so decided to join up with the stillbirth and neonatal charity Sands to set one up.

“Although I had the support of my husband and family, I didn’t have anybody to talk to who had been through a similar experience,” Dawne said.

“Eventually I made friends with some of the other bereaved parents I met at the cemetery where my son is buried and we became each others support network in those early days.

Last year Dawne and Ian decided they felt ready take on the role of ‘befrienders’ and in October, completed their training which enabled them to offer support to other families who have suffered a neonatal or stillbirth bereavement.

They are calling on anyone else in the area, who has lost a baby and feels they might be able to offer support to others, to join them in their efforts by becoming a ‘befriender’.

A year must have passed since your bereavement before you will be able to train as a ‘befriender’.

The couple are also looking for two people to join the committee as secretary and treasurer, as well as anyone who can help fund-raise.

You do not have to have suffered a bereavement to be a committee member.

“In the months after his death I became painfully aware of just how many bereaved families there are in Hastings with the almost weekly arrival of a new tiny grave, I kept thinking of these families and the lack of support available and felt something needed to be done,” Dawne said.

“Eventually I spoke to my husband Ian about becoming a ‘befriender’ and initially he was worried that it may bring back painful memories for me but after we discussed it at depth for some time we both came to the conclusion that this is something that the local area needed and that we felt in a position to be able to do.

“For us this is George’s legacy, his time with us may have been brief, but his existence will make a difference for other families out there.”

Dawne and Ian are running support meetings in the Hastings and St Leonards area under the umbrella of Brighton Sands, another of the charity’s support groups.

The first meeting is being held on Thursday 25th February, followed by Thursday, March 31, and Thursday April 28, at 7.45pm.

For venue details call Dawne or Ian on 07493 716124 or email

If you are interested in getting involved with and helping set up a new Sands Group contact New Groups and Training Coordinator Lorna Delayahu on 0203 598 1927 or email

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