Save Sands

2015 is the year we have to Save Sands as our current grant funding will end in December.

More than ever, Sands Queensland needs help to provide essential support for parents who face the tragic death of their baby during pregnancy, at birth or in the neonatal period. Around 700 families face the heartbreak of stillbirth and neonatal death every year thousands more have to deal with miscarriage and early pregnancy loss.

Sands - A little life not a little loss

Sands support service include; phone, email, online and face to face support for bereaved families, along with support and education for professionals.


Post by Nicole Ireland, Sands Queensland Committee President

There is nothing in the world that can prepare you for the heartbreak and the sheer devastation – particularly the agony of leaving the hospital without your much loved and longed for baby. Nine years on I remember walking out of that hospital so vividly that I still struggle to go back there today.

 Worse still, what do you do when you get home to the nursery that is all set up and waiting for your new baby – a nursery that you have loving put together and now may never get to use. Instead of agonising over the best pram to buy, it’s trying to figure out how to go on.

 More than feeling like something is missing, you feel like something has been ripped out of you and nine years later the feeling is still there – not every day but still there in the quiet moments and on every family and special occasion. When you meet new people who ask you how many children you have and when you have to explain to your other children why Mummy sometimes gets really sad.

 Family and friends do everything they can to help and we have had amazing support – much of it overwhelming. But sometimes you need more than that.

 At the beginning and for the past nine years, I have relied on Sands as a place to belong, a place where it’s okay to talk about my son and how I feel, a place where I can help others and, now, a place to give back.

Nicole took on the role of Committee President in 2013, here with outgoing president Bev Homel

Nicole took on the role of Committee President in 2013, here with outgoing president Bev Homel

Nicole 3

Nicole and Sands Queensland founding member Judy Clarkson











Sands is all about parents helping parents and is an amazing group of parents and families who share the one thing they would love not to share and that is that their baby has died. It’s a club that no-one wants to join.

 It is also so, so very important to help parents through the grieving process and to make sure they know there is someone who understands. I despair to think what might happen if people don’t have this special place.

 Sands maintains an office and a small part-time staff to facilitate support, educational and memorial services across Queensland and to work with allied health professionals and other support services who help parents at the worst times of their lives.

Nicole and State Manager Kate Cowmeadow (right) and parent volunteer Erin (left) at the Sands Walk to Remember

Nicole and State Manager Kate Cowmeadow (right) and parent volunteer Erin (left) at the Sands Walk to Remember

 It is, of course, my greatest wish that no more babies will die and that Sands won’t need to exist but that is just a fantasy. In the meantime, each year in Queensland approximately 1000 parents are affected by stillbirth and neonatal death and a further 20,000 parents experience the impact of early pregnancy loss.

 After many years of continued support, the Queensland Government offered Sands funding at its current level (approximately $80,000 per year) until December 2015 after which time funding will cease.

 That means, this essential service is at risk of shutting down because the core funding will cease at the end of this year. We have a plan in place to look at other ways to survive but this will take time to deliver. For this reason we are working as hard as we can to “Save Sands”.

 I don’t want other parents to find themselves lost and alone in dealing with the death of their baby and I know that Sands is the only group that continue to provide support and help for parents, families, the community and all of those people who engage with bereaved parents in their darkest days.

Our son forever changed our lives and I hope that in his memory I can help to Save Sands.

Nicole 1

Nicole and her daughters releasing a butterfly in memory of Nicholas at the Sands Walk to Remember



On June 19th, 2015, Nicole will be hosting a #SaveSands Gala in Brisbane we would love for you to attend. All information can be found HERE. It will be a wonderful night with Rebecca Sparrow as guest MC, entertainment by Pheonix, silent auction and an amazing special raffle where one lucky guest will take home a beautiful piece of jewellery from Canturi.

For those not in the Brisbane are who would like to find out how they can help to #SaveSands, please contact our head office or follow Sands on Facebook for more information.


Make a donation today








Free Spirits

Guest Post by Artist and bereaved father Glenn Ainsworth.

Glenn has generously offered his skills to Sands Queensland to provide personalise baby portraits for bereaved families. Orders can be made via the Sands Queensland website. 


Baxter (13.02.14)

It has been six months to the day since we first got to meet our little boy. It has been six months since our life went from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows. Six months since all we could hear was the hum of an air-conditioner instead of his heartbeat on the Doppler monitor. From that moment on our lives changed forever. He was due two days before, his name is Baxter and he is our son.

I remember feeling numb when they told us that our little boy was gone, no anger or rage, just numb. It felt almost dreamlike and while I knew in my head that it was very real, I didn’t comprehend how cruel of an experience it would be. The continual tears and sadness have been so tiring and at times almost too much to bear. But for me the worst is seeing my wife, my best friend; go through the physical pain of child birth followed by the immeasurable emotional suffering that has followed. To see this happen to such a positive person has torn me apart.

It was just something I would never imagine could happen. Until this point our lives had been truly blessed, we had travelled the world, had some amazing experiences and live in a wonderful place. We both have good jobs and a loving family, so why did this happen to us? Well why not? What made us different to anyone else? What made us think that we were immune to the same risks as anyone else? This is an experience that shows no discrimination as it takes us to the lowest depths of despair and leaves you there to make our own way out.

I suppose the solace we have taken from all of this is that we live in a part of the world where we can find comfort from others and be grateful that there are some truly beautiful people in our lives. For us it started with the amazing midwives and doctor who took care of us in hospital and has continued through to the support shown by our family, friends and outsiders which still continues without reservation. As we have free fallen through the air there has been hands reaching out to grab us, to save us and support us. These countless and selfless acts of kindness in Bax’s memory have been overwhelming and I feel compelled to pay this forward anyway I can to those that have been faced with a similar situation.

After Bax was born I couldn’t stop looking at him, he was perfect. Gee what I wouldn’t have given to see that blanket move with his breath or the room fill with his cry. As I studied him and tried to burn his image in my mind forever, I made him a promise that every day for the rest of my life I would do something in his memory. No matter how small or big, it would be just for him. As part of that pact I made a sketch of him, from his tiny nose and lips to his big hands, I captured him in that moment. I am so grateful we had that time together and that I had the opportunity to draw him has he lay there in pure peace, untainted by any more evils that the world could throw up. His picture and those thoughts are something that both my wife and I cherish dearly and if I can provide other families with a picture of their precious baby that they can treasure, then it would be an honour.

As the saying goes – We can’t change the wind we can only adjust our sails – Well this has happened and we can’t change it. All we can do now is pick up the pieces and start climbing again. Our lives are different now and while we can’t share any of the physical times we had planned with Bax, every moment we have left alive we will share with him spiritually both in our hearts and in our minds. No one can take that away.




To order a Free Spirits Portrait go to the Sands Queensland website HERE

Dex’s Mum

Guest Post by Cassie Kennedy

On the 12th of October 2013 will mark the 1st Birthday of my son Dex Thistleton. Sadly, we will also relive a terrible nightmare that unfolded at that time also.

On Tuesday the 9th of October 2012, I had gone into the hospital for my routine 36+1 week checkup. Dex was very active and his heartbeat and size were healthy.

We went home knowing he would be here soon. His sister had arrived at 35+6 weeks weighing a massive (for gestational age) 6lb4oz. And it was obvious that I was running out of room fast!!!

At home, everything was organised and in its place. I finally finished putting all his stickers on his walls on that Tuesday night. This was the finishing touch to his beautiful room.

We had chosen not to know the sex throughout the pregnancy in order to have a surprise. But everyone was sure we were having a boy!

I woke on Thursday the 11th of October 2012 with the onset of very early labour. I knew this was it! So we took it easy I got my daughter Ramani ready for school and my partner Ryan decided to go for a quick surf (as any parent knows there’s not much me time when a bubba arrives so it was his last surf for a while!). I went off at 8.45am to drop Ramani to school, on my way I felt Dex give a few kicks. After I returned home at about 10am something didn’t feel right. Ryan was calling every 30 minutes to check in on me. When he called at around 10.30 I told him I was concerned because I hadn’t felt Dex move since on the way to school (normally this wouldn’t alarm me, but for some reason I just knew something wasn’t right). Ryan spoke calmly and told me that he was probably just going quiet to get ready for the pending labour. It made sense but I wasn’t completely convinced. So I started to drink icy cold water and lay down to see if I felt anything…. Nothing! So I moved to my sides and poked and probed him to get him to move…. Again Nothing! Then as I lay there my labour signs were slowly easing off until there was nothing….No movement and no labour.

At this stage most people would panic… I didn’t. I carried on with the rest of the day hoping labour would start again and that Dex would wake up and start kicking again. I felt off and a little sick. That evening we had anti-natal classes so we went along they were held next door to the hospital. I mentioned to Ryan that if I hadn’t felt Dex move by the end of the session then I would like to go and get checked. He agreed.

There was no change, so we went off upstairs to see the midwives. They checked me straight away. Within 3 seconds of the Doppler being placed on my stomach I knew. They picked up my heartbeat which gave my partner hope. But my instant reaction was that it was only mine and not the baby. They proceeded to get the portable ultrasound machine, and again when they placed it on my stomach… Nothing, just nothing.

It was confirmed Dex had left us. It was 10pm that night and we were told to go home and get some rest as they were going to induce labour the next day. I didn’t sleep a wink. My life was shattered and I just laid there and held my stomach and cried hysterically for hours.

I couldn’t believe my worst nightmare had come true. I never thought it could happen to me. I’m young (30 then), live a healthy lifestyle, do not drink alcohol, no coffee, no smoking, none of the foods on the do not eat through pregnancy list, you name it – I was a model pregnancy advocate and IT HAPPENED TO ME!

Dex was born at 6.03pm on the 12th October 2012 at a healthy 7lb2oz, big big boy! An autopsy was performed although it did not provide any answers.

Kennedy Family

On the 1st of September 2013 I will be participating in the Bridge to Brisbane – running in honor of my son Dex Thistleton!

I have raised nearly $4000 for Sands Queensland so they can continue to support families who experience the loss of a baby.

I also run the Bridge to Brisbane for STILLBIRTH AWARENESS & RESEARCH. I have now embarked on a lifetime goal to see that more research is done. Awareness and talking out loud about stillbirth is the key to building our knowledge. I was never asked throughout this whole ordeal about anything I experienced through the pregnancy. This should be the midwives & doctors first question. How can stillbirth rates ever be decreased if no questions are being asked?

Dex Kennedy

Cassie is currently listed 8th in the Top Ten Individual Fundraisers on Every Day Hero. A perfect example of her determination to increase awareness of stillbirth, raise funds for Sands Queensland, and help other bereaved parents. If you would like to support Cassie and Sands, you can donate here.

Running for Riley

Guest Post by  Kelly Elliot-Maskiell

We lost our son Riley late last year at almost 41 weeks. We decided very soon after to create a running team for two runs in 2013. I have organised a team for the Bridge to Brisbane and Lee is running The Glasshouse 100 miler (162km). We realise that this is something we want to do every year and build it. Our goal is to encourage people to keep fit and healthy, celebrate personal achievements, raise money for families and research, make stillbirth less taboo and generally GET RILEYED!


We have raised $4281 for Sands Queensland, with 4 and a bit weeks to go. We are currently fourth on the Bridge to Brisbane fundraising team ladder. So far we have 20 runners in the 10km team and 9 in the 5 km team.

We have three runners in the 100 miler and have raised more than $300 for Stillbirth Australia.


We also all team members and support crew in RFR merchandise. So look for us on the B2B run.


If you would like to follow Kelly and Lee’s journey, head over to their blog Riley’s Room

or show your support for the Running for Riley Team at Everyday Hero


I support you, you support me.

At Sands this is what it is all about, parents supporting each other through the thick and thin of grief. My husband and family recently moved to Singapore and when we heard of our Sands family walking in the Bridge to Brisbane we were sad that we would not be able to join in. So we supported our Sands family the way we could by sponsoring them.

To our delight the idea of making butterflies and having them pinned to the walkers was created.


My mother and I sat  together to make little butterflies, we talk about Ruby, we thought about Ruby, we created butterflies that reflected Ruby, that reminded us of Ruby.

We might not be able to walk in the Bridge to Brisbane, our little Ruby will be there breaking the silence, walking with other parents, feeling love and spreading love, supporting parents that support us.



If you would like a butterfly for your baby to join us at the Bridge to Brisbane, please send it to

Bridge to Brisbane Butterflies, c/o Sands Queensland, PO Box 934, New Farm, Qld 4005.

Or you can view the butterflies in our Album

Walking, Because It’s Something I Can Do

Guest Post By Tash Foote

The moment Hugo passed away, at just 2 hours and 25 mins old, I realised that there would be a limited amount of things I could do for him. The things I could do started with bathing my precious baby boy and dressing him, it continued as I cuddled and loved him, it started ending as I prepared his funeral and became even more final as his funeral passed.

While I find fulfilment in tending to his grave and making memory boxes in his name, I am constantly searching for things I can do for my son. I’m sure parents in the baby loss community would be able to understand where I’m coming from- its hard looking for ways to be a good parent to an angel baby. I can’t feed my baby, I can’t rock him to sleep, or even play with him. Those are memories I will never be able to make. What I can do is insure his memory stays alive, that Hugo Michael Foote is never forgotten, and I can walk the steps that he will not take. The Bridge To Brisbane allows me to do both these things.

I am so grateful to be walking in the Sands Queensland Team. Sands have offered me amazing support through the last 16 weeks. I have been supported by other parents on their own grief journey and have made beautiful friends. I am looking forward to walking with other baby loss families and helping break the silence on miscarriage, stillbirth and neonatal death, as well as raising much needed funds for the ongoing support of bereaved families.

I will be walking with my Husband, My Mum, My Sister In Law and My Nephew. It is a beautiful feeling to be surrounded and supported in our grief journey.

Have you considered walking with us?

If you would like to read more about Tash and Hugo, you can find her at The Hugo Effect blog or The Hugo Effect on Facebook

If you would like to join us at the Bridge to Brisbane or give your support to our competitors, join the event Bridge to Brisbane for Sands Queensland