A woman from Kenilworth has cycled the length of the United Kingdom, from her living room, raising over £2,000 for Birmingham Women’s Hospital Charity, in memory of her baby daughter, Lucy, who was stillborn.

Jen Arnold took to her exercise bike to ride the distance of the famous 872-mile John O’ Groats to Land’s End route over the course of eight weeks and crossed the finish line on what would have been Lucy’s first birthday. Her motivation was to raise money for the hospital’s Woodland House Appeal.

Birmingham Women’s Hospital Charity is raising £3.5million to bring Woodland House – a brand-new, purpose-built bereavement centre – to the hospital. It will be a haven, away from the hustle and bustle of main site, where heart-breaking pregnancy and baby loss conversations can take place. Space within the hospital is limited and as such conversations currently take place in rooms and locations that don’t reflect the significance of a family’s loss. The appeal will see Birmingham Women’s Hospital set the standard for pregnancy and loss care, nationally.

The appeal resonated strongly with Jen and her husband, James, after their own heart-breaking experience when Lucy was tragically stillborn at 28 weeks.

Jen and James were over the moon when they found out they were going to be parents, but their joy soon turned to anxiety when their 20-week scan at their local hospital revealed anomalies in their pregnancy. The couple were quickly referred to the expert Fetal Medicine Unit at Birmingham Women’s Hospital where doctors confirmed a devastating diagnosis of Hydrops, which meant there was excess fluid building up in her baby’s organs. Jen was ordered to have weekly scans to monitor Lucy’s condition, but at 28 weeks Jen’s own health began to deteriorate, mirroring her baby’s symptoms. Jen visited her local hospital to be monitored, and it was there that she discovered Lucy’s heart has stopped beating.

Jen said “When you’re pregnant, nothing can prepare you for the news that there’s something wrong with your baby or that her heart has stopped beating. Nothing will change that desperate situation, but when you’re ushered into those soulless quiet-rooms for a conversation that will change your life forever, the cruellest position to find yourself in, is to come out and be faced with pregnant women all around you, newborn babies crying, and families with balloons and gifts. Your emotions are magnified and you just want to run!

“I can’t fault the kindness and compassion we received from the staff, they were truly wonderful. But when Lucy was born I didn’t want to see other people in the hospital or to be seen, so having the safe, private space that Woodland House will create, will just make such a difference to families who have to endure what we did. Nothing will take my pain away, but I’m so pleased that I could do something in Lucy’s memory that will help to support other parents and families experiencing similar situations.”

Miranda Williams, Head of Public Fundraising at Birmingham Women’s Hospital Charity, said: “It’s incredible that Jen has been able to channel such a challenging life-changing experience into trying to make things better for other bereaved parents.

“Every year, over 2,000 women and families are given heart-breaking and life-changing news at our hospital, and we know from our mums that they often have the feeling of being trapped with nowhere to go after they’ve given birth. We need to raise £3.5 million to make Woodland House a reality, and the incredible amount Jen has raised for our Woodland House Appeal brings us a step closer to this target.”

For more information about the Woodland House Appeal or to donate, click here.