In Memory of Chloe and Olivia

As many grieving parents know, the journey after our losses is full of milestones such as anniversaries that are painful and emotional to live through. We all have our own ways to cope with these days but many of us have the same thought – we want to honour and remember our babies in a meaningful way.Read More »


How to give love and support on International Bereaved Mother’s Day


May 7th is International Bereaved Mother’s Day.

It is a day for those in the Pregnancy and Infant Loss community to come together to show their support and recognition for those mothering children no longer here with them.Read More »

2017 Sands Queensland Management Committee

The Sands Queensland Management Committee is comprised of volunteers who dedicate their time and skills to help steer Sands in it’s mission to promote and facilitate quality support and care systems for the parents and families of babies who have died during pregnancy, at birth or soon after.

We welcome and thank the new Committee for 2017 and look forward to a productive year.

Tina Thurtel – President

Tina and the family at the 2016 Walk to Remember

Our daughter, Willow, was stillborn at full term in October 2015. For the past four years I have been an Educator and Assessor for various Registered Training Organisation’s delivering Youth Work, Counselling, Community Services and Mental Health. Previously, I had fifteen years experience working in non- government charity organisations and Management Committee’s across Qld and NSW. I have a degree in Psychology, a Post Graduate Diploma of Counselling, Diploma of Community Services Coordination, and Cert IV Training and Assessment. I was raised in a small country town in Northern NSW and moved to Brisbane twenty years ago.

Nicky Lynch – Secretary

Nicky 1
Nicky Lynch

After a long career in banking and finance I was drawn to a gentler career in the non-profit sector. Voluntary work in several organisations sparked a passion for community work and led me to Sands Queensland in 2005. My passion for grass roots community work developed as Sands struggled to overcome the many obstacles facing volunteer organisations including a lack of funding and the pressure to become more professional or businesslike in their activities. I completed a Bachelor of Human Services and Graduate Certificate in Business (Philanthropy and Not for Profit Studies) which allowed me to better understand the voluntary sector and provide useful skills as the Organisation navigated the changing environment.

As Office Manager until 2015 I was lucky enough to witness Sands’ transition to the leading provider of bereavement services and its never wavering commitment to its mission.

For the past eighteen months I have lived in Abu Dhabi (where my husband
is currently based) and taken the opportunity to travel. Now back in Brisbane,
I have joined the Sands Queensland Management Committee as Secretary and hope to continue my contribution to this wonderful organisation. The stint in the Middle East has once again led me to re-evaluate life with my hope for a less complicated existence. A couple of chickens, a dog and well-tended herb and vegetable gardens are now my focus.

My daughter is a lawyer in Perth and my son works in property development in Brisbane. My husband hopes to be home in early 2017.

Amanda Rohan – Secretary

General Committee Members

WTR 2011 Ribbon banner
Fra Left: Marie Deuble

Marie Deuble
For almost 30 years, Marie and her late husband Bob Deuble have supported parents and their families in the Townsville region. Their commitment to Sands Queensland and its mission has been unwavering. Sands Townsville is now recognised by health care professionals and the wider community as a leader in the support of bereaved parents through all stages of pregnancy loss and new born death.

Marie continues to provide invaluable support to Sands Queensland.

Nell Hakfoort

Nell Hakfoort (right) at the 2016 Sands Luncheon
I received invaluable support from Sands Qld in 2014 when my baby Jasper was born at 16 weeks gestation. Since then I have been involved with the organisation as a volunteer, which has given me many opportunities to honour Jasper in positive and meaningful ways, and to connect with other people who understand and empathise with my experience. I have been inspired by many of the amazing people I have gotten to know through Sands Qld.
Most of my working life so far has been spent as a qualified picture framer and retail business manager, until I re-trained in graphic design. I live in Brisbane with my husband and three sons, and am a full-time mother and occasional graphic designer.
I recently joined the management committee because I believe Sands Qld has a very important role in supporting and advocating for bereaved parents, and I want to help continue that crucial work.

Sands Australia Delegate

Nicole and her daughter at the Sands Queensland Walk to Remember

Nicole Ireland

Having joined Sands Queensland as a member following the death of our son Nicholas 11 years ago, I found the support services incredibly helpful for my family and our broader network. As time passed, I wanted to play a part in making sure that Sands Queensland would be able to provide support to newly bereaved parents across the State – support like we received.

I served on the Committee for four years and was President from September 2013 until the AGM in September 2016. I learnt a lot during that time and feel proud of my contribution in honour of our son. My current role at Sands Queensland is a delegate to Sands Australia.

I have a professional background in journalism, communications, stakeholder engagement and Government relations and have worked in the mining sector for much of my career. I live in Brisbane with my husband and our two young daughters.

Each year in September, a new Management Committee is selected from volunteers who are prepared to give of their time. If you are interested in learning more or perhaps becoming a Sands Queensland Committee member, please contact us on (07) 3254 3422 or email

Read More »

President’s Report 2015/16

In time, I expect 2015/16 will be recognised as a pivotal year in the history of Sands Queensland. It was a year where we were forced to look hard at our mission and our services and our future. The potential cessation of the long-term Queensland Government funding meant that we had to look at ways to survive and keep the doors open.

As challenging as it was, one thing did shine through – the value of our organisation and the importance members and now, the broader community, place on what we do. As President the long-term struggle to retain the Government funding was often overwhelming but it was the ongoing support of members and their commitment that provided the drive to push on.

Through the Save Sands campaign we were able to position the organisation very strongly for the future. The money raised, along with renewed funding for 3.5 years means Sands is well-placed for the future. Of course there is more we could do – the aspiration to reach more hospital and health professionals all over the State remains a goal, along with building and supporting strong regional volunteer networks – all of which will help bereaved parents and those who will sadly join our ranks in the future.

It has been an enormous year but one which we should all be proud of.

Nicole and volunteers at the 2016 Walk to Remember
Nicole and volunteers at the 2016 Walk to Remember

I want to thank my fellow Committee members for their ongoing contribution; our staff for going above and beyond; and our members for continuing to volunteer, fundraise and support parents. I would particularly like to acknowledge the long-term involvement of Nerissa Healey and Penny ten Brinke who both leave the Committee this year – thank you for all that you have done in so many roles. Don’t be strangers!

In an organisation like Sands Queensland, everyone has a role to play and it is truly about helping one another.

It has been an honour and a privilege to serve as President and I thank the organisation and our members for allowing me to honour our Nicholas and help other bereaved parents.

~ Nicole Ireland, Sands Queensland Committee President 2013-16

For a review of the 2015/16 achievements, the Sands Queensland Annual Report for 2015/16 is available to download HERE

Read More »

Rockhampton Butterfly fundraises for a Cuddle Cot

After the success of the Cairns Cuddle Cot fundraiser, several parents have approached Sands Queensland to help them fundraise for a cuddle cot at their local hospital.

Marga is the Butterfly Coordinator at Rockhampton, providing the Sands Queensland memory bag to Rockhampton Base and is proudly organising fundraising for the next Cuddle Cot through Sands.

‘Hi my name is Marga and I am the mother of two beautiful children.  I had never heard of Sands until I had the heartbreak of losing my daughter Paige, which was the most amazing yet saddest time of my life. Over the years I have found myself wanting to get involved in something that would help me through my grief and do something my children and family would be proud of but most of all to honour the memory of Paige; so when the opportunity to become a Butterfly Coordinator was made available for Sands Queensland I didn’t give it a second thought.  To be apart of this program that makes such beautiful gifts for bereaved parents has been the best decision I have made.’

Marga Quinlan on her role as Butterfly Coordinator for Sands Queensland

Equipping a hospital with a Cuddle Cot system is about giving bereaved parents a choice on how they spend their time with baby. The system allows the baby to be kept cool, without being taken away from parents and family, so they can spend the time they need with their baby. As any bereaved parent will tell you, more time is what is wanted most. It allows more time for parents to collect memories such as photos, prints, casts, and even introducing baby to family.

If you are a member of Sands Queensland you can join the fundraising team at Every Day Hero by emailing

or if you would like to support this cause and make a tax deductible donation

Donate Now



Supporting Parents in Many Ways


As part of National Volunteer Week we want to show you the different ways people can become involved with Sands.

Nerissa is our Cairns Regional Contact, parent supporter and Sands Queensland Committee Secretary and here we ask her a few questions about her time at Sands Queensland.

What motivated you to start volunteering with Sands? 

I started volunteering at Sands after moving up to Cairns from Melbourne. In Melbourne I had access to several support groups that I attended regularly and was really surprised to find no groups available for parents in Cairns. I called the Sands office and spoke to Liz, it just so happened that another lady (Kelly) was looking for a group as well. Kelly and I got together, attended training and started the Cairns group. It was really great working with Kelly and to be honest I don’t think I would have stuck it out without her.

At first my volunteering at Sands was motivated to fulfil my own need to be around other bereaved parents. Over time this has changed to just really wanting the group to be available for others.  I also just really love volunteering. It’s great to be involved in something that you feel passionate about.

How are you involved with Sands currently?

I have a few different roles at Sands. In terms of providing support I respond to emails on the sands support email address, have a rostered day once a fortnight on the 1300 0 SANDS support line and co-facilitate the support group in Cairns.

I also sit on the Sands Qld committee as the secretary and assist in running events in Cairns.  

The guys up here in Cairns are currently running a fundraising drive to purchase a cold cot for Cairns base. It’s really great to be involved in a project like this, to know that providing a cold cot for the hospital will allow parents to extend that precious small amount of time they have with their baby is a great feeling.

How has Sands assisted you?

Sands has helped me by providing an opportunity to part of a community and feeling like I have a place. My grief was probably the most isolating experience I have had in my life. Being around other parents was the only time I felt remotely sane.

Volunteering has also provided an opportunity for me to develop a whole range of skills like, public speaking, event organisation and communication skills.

What do you value most about being the Cairns Regional Contact?

I just feel that it’s really important that regional people have access to support services like Sands. Unfortunately it is becoming more common that regional people have to travel, or just miss out altogether.

I also value all the people (parents, volunteers, Sands staff, hospital staff) I get to work with and make connections with. We have such an amazing crew up here and across the whole state. I feel really lucky to be around them and have the opportunity to learn from everyone involved.

What is your greatest achievement during your time with Sands?

To be honest I don’t see any achievements I have been involved in at Sands as an individual achievement. What Sands has really taught me is how great it is to be part of a community and how the most amazing things can happen when you work as part of a team.  None of the things that have happened in Cairns would have occurred without the many people that have been involved. Even roles like being on the support line are done as part of a team and are made easier by all of us working together.

What have you learnt about your own grief?

For me, being involved with Sands has shown me that something positive can (eventually) come out of my grief. Also that grieving is absolutely normal, people should be allowed to grieve as openly and as long as they need to. 

Nerissa and Kate, Sands Cairns parent supporters


It’s not always easy being a volunteer. I’ve made plenty of mistakes and wish I had sometimes done things differently. Sometimes the support groups are really quiet and we wonder if we should keep going with it. Then two months later it’s really busy again!

I would just say to any volunteer to use the supports around you. Never be afraid to call the office and ask for advice. The livelihood of Sands really relies on our volunteer base, so as a volunteer it’s really important to take care of your-self both physically and emotionally.

A New Years Wish

We wish you patience with yourself in the painful weeks, months, even years ahead.
We wish you healing tears and the ability to express your grief.
We wish you the understanding you deserve and the assurance that you are loved.
And the hope that 2014 is a better year.