A couple who were supported by the Stars Appeal Benson Suite after the loss of their baby son and daughter are raising money in their memory to help other bereaved parents.

Neal Riley and his wife Els lost their son Oscar in January 2023. The couple’s “world fell apart again” in November of that year when they lost their daughter Sophie.

The Benson Suite within the Maternity Department at Salisbury District Hospital provides a dedicated, private space where families who sadly experience the death of a baby at birth can be cared for with their baby, away from the Labour Ward.

The specialist suite helps ensure the time these families are able to spend with their baby is as precious, dignified and personal as possible.

Neal and Els RileyNeal and Els Riley (Image: Stars Appeal)

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Neal and Els said: “2023 was unimaginable, totally devastating, and life-changing for all the wrong reasons.

“The Benson Suite provided a space where we could process the tragedy and come to terms with losing Oscar and Sophie. The staff were incredible, supporting us throughout and making us feel at ease.”

To make a donation towards their fundraising go to justgiving.com/page/rushmoregolfclub-100hole-charityday.

The Stars Appeal Bereavement Midwife, whose work is funded entirely by donations to the charity, helped the Riley’s during and after the loss of their babies.

“Without this help, life would have been even more difficult, but to have someone who phoned us once a week, asked how we were getting on, and signposting us to other support groups was fantastic,” added Neal and Els, who are from Gussage St Michael in Dorset.

“The Benson Suite is so important. It provides a space away from the Maternity Ward where you can spend time with your baby. You aren’t rushed and can have all the time you need.  Although it is a hospital setting, the Benson Suite doesn’t feel clinical in the slightest. It meant the world to us both to have this support available.”

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They have already raised over £6,000 for the Benson Suite in memory of Oscar and Sophie.

Neal and his friends previously took on a 72-hole challenge, which raised over £4,500. He is now planning a 100-hole golf challenge on June 23 at Rushmore Golf Club to raise more money for the Benson Suite.

Money raised will contribute to the £50,000 the Stars Appeal, Salisbury Hospital’s Charity, aims to raise each year to maintain the Stars Appeal Benson Suite and fund the Stars Appeal Bereavement Midwife.

Neal and Els said: “We want our children to be remembered in everything we do. Fundraising keeps their memories alive and will help families who go through the tragic loss of their child.”