A bereaved mom and dad from Solihull have hit the back of the net in memory of their baby daughter, after holding a charity football match and raising over £15,000 for Birmingham Women’s Hospital Charity in her memory.

Pete and Sinead Lyons, from Solihull, organised the match which took place at Leafield Athletic Football Club, to raise funds to give back to the team of staff at Birmingham Women’s Hospital, who did everything they could to try and save their baby, Sophia’s, life after she was born prematurely.

Pete and Sinead were delighted when they found out that they were expecting their third child and after their 12 and 20 week scans saw no cause for concern, Sinead settled into her pregnancy. Everything was going perfectly, but then at 25-weeks-pregnant, Sinead began to feel unwell with a fever and back ache. The next morning Sinead woke up in pain. To her horror, she found she had started bleeding.

Pete rushed Sinead to Birmingham Women’s Hospital where her waters broke, and less than three hours later, baby Sophia was born. Doctors and nurses worked tirelessly, doing everything they could to keep Sophia alive, but sadly after fighting for six hours, Sophia passed away. The devastated couple were moved to the hospital’s bereavement suite where they stayed overnight to spend time with Sophia before saying goodbye. It was those final hours that inspired Pete and Sinead to begin fundraising in Sophia’s honour and memory.

Pete, who manages his son’s junior football team, got straight on the phone to his local club to book a pitch. The couple then got stuck into their planning and began rounding up friends, family and local players to take part in a match he called ‘For Sophia’. Just three months later the match took place with paid entry, sponsorship, raffles, a bar and a BBQ raising three times their initial fundraising target.

The couple chose for the funds to go to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Birmingham Women’s Hospital, where Sophia spent her short life, and to the hospital charity’s Woodland House Appeal. When complete, Woodland House, a standalone bereavement centre, will provide a space for families like theirs to spend time together away from the hustle and bustle of the main hospital, after losing a baby.

Pete said: “There are no words to describe how we felt when Sophia passed away but we’ll be forever grateful for the team who tried their best to save her and that’s why we wanted to host the match and give something back.

“The time we had with Sophia was precious, but we couldn’t ignore the fact that we were still in the hospital, surrounded by healthy babies being born and that was a hard pill to swallow. Having a place like Woodland House where we could have spent time in private, away from everyone else, would have made the ordeal just that little bit easier to handle.”

Miranda Williams, Head of Public Fundraising at Birmingham Women’s Hospital Charity, said: “We’re so grateful that Pete and Sinead were able to channel what must have been such a horrific time in their lives and use it to help create a more sympathetic experience for other families who find themselves in a similar position.

“The funds they raised will go towards helping us do more for our NICU babies and their families, and bring us a step closer to making Woodland House a reality for our bereaved mums and dads.”