A mum from Moseley has crossed the finish line in memory of her daughter after taking on the Great North Run and raising £5,500 to support bereaved families experiencing pregnancy or baby loss at Birmingham Women’s Hospital.

Adele Ray had a relatively easy and stress-free first pregnancy and, at week 39, her and husband Daniel were patiently waiting for baby to arrive. However, after not feeling the baby move for a while, Adele started to get concerned, and to be cautious, the couple went to Birmingham Women’s Hospital to make sure everything was alright.

It was there their whole world came crashing down around them when they were told their baby girl had no heartbeat. The couple were devastated and, to add to their anguish, they were told they would have to go home and return in a couple of days to give birth to their baby.

Those two days were terrifying for Adele, as she nervously waited, unsure of what to expect when she went back in. When she was finally induced, it felt like an out-of-body experience. She quietly laboured for 12 hours, before baby Scarlett was born sleeping.

Adele has since gone on to have her rainbow baby, little Louis, who was born in 2020, but her experience is always with her. She says: “You never think something like this will happen to you. You’re never the same again. I was 35 at the time, and it was the first time I had to deal with grief. I still live the loss all the time.”

She continues: “As amazing as the midwives were when caring for Scarlett, Daniel and me, I knew I would have to eventually say goodbye to Scarlett and leave the hospital without a baby in my arms. That was so heart breaking for me and, as we left, I actually saw a lady from one of my pregnancy classes, which is exactly what I had feared. That’s why when I heard about Woodland House – a planned bereavement centre at the hospital – which will offer couples like Daniel and me a safe haven, I knew it was a project I had to support.”

Adele had always enjoyed running. She found it important for her mental health, which became even more true following her stillbirth. However, after having Louis during the pandemic, she struggled to get back into it, as she had lost confidence in herself. Thankfully, after joining a running group, Cotteridge Park Runners, who were very welcoming and supportive, she found her love for running again, and the benefits it brought to her mental and physical health. So, when she was thinking about how to say thank you to Birmingham Women’s Hospital for the care she received, a running challenge to raise funds for Woodland House seemed the obvious choice. She signed up to the Great North Run alongside her friend Mandy, who runs a pregnancy yoga group Adele joined whilst expecting.

Adele’s husband, Daniel, has chosen to give back to the hospital in a different way. He was working in data within the NHS at the time of the stillbirth but has since taken on a senior tech role at the hospital’s Trust, Birmingham Women’s and Children’s NHS Foundation Trust, where he hopes his experience and influence will support the advancement of treatments and services at the hospital. 

Talking about the Great North Run, Adele said: “It was a really enjoyable day, the atmosphere was amazing. I didn’t realise how much of the route was uphill! But it was special to be able to run alongside Mandy, who has been such a great support to me.

“I was also blown away by everyone who donated and my employer who match-funded our total. Sharing mine and Scarlett’s story has really resonated with lots of people and it’s why I'll continue to speak up and break the silence around baby loss.”

Miranda Williams, head of public fundraising at Birmingham Women’s Hospital Charity, said: “Adele is incredibly brave to share her story. It demonstrates just why Woodland House is so needed, as families going through this tragic experience deserve the best bereavement aftercare possible. We’re so grateful that the money she’s raised will help us provide that for our future families.”