Our Manchester research centre team triple their target in 'Step up for Stillbirth' challenge

To mark the little lives lost to stillbirth each year, staff and students at our Manchester research centre took on the challenge of doing 2,000,000 steps between them during Baby Loss Awareness Week.

It’s always so inspiring to see the amazing fundraising efforts of our supporters, from marathons to macramé. October has been no exception, and we’ve loved seeing our community take part in all sorts of activities, including the Splashathon with our partners at WaterBabies and running events across the country.

We also had an overwhelming response to Baby Loss Awareness Week 2021, with lots of people coming together to remember the little lives we’ve lost. This year, the staff and students at our Maternal and Fetal Health Research Centre in Manchester also got involved, organising a week-long ‘Step up for Stillbirth’ fundraiser in aid of Tommy’s. With there being over 2 million stillbirths every year worldwide, the team set out to raise awareness of this and take 2 million steps in their memory.

This was through a range of activities, from solo runs to group Zumba classes and science-themed walking tours. While they divided into teams, lecturer Mark Dilworth took the crown for individual top stepper of the week, totting up a whopping 207,000 steps through daily runs. Notable mention belongs to Dr Ed Johnstone too – who managed to complete 5 steps towards the challenge despite recovering from a broken hip!

With the challenge running across Baby Loss Awareness Week (9 – 15 October), they completed an amazing 7,003,119 steps in total – far exceeding the original target – and raised over £16,500!

A real highlight of the week was the Rainbow Race at Platt Fields Park in Manchester. This was a chance for Prof Alex Heazell and the team at the Rainbow Clinic to be reunited with rainbow babies they’d helped deliver years before, as babies, toddlers and children born at our clinics – and their parents – donned their running shoes and rainbow colours to race around a 1km course to raise funds for our vital work.

One of the main organisers of the Step up for Stillbirth challenge, research doctor Lucy Higgins, said: “Rallying around such a fantastic cause gave everyone such motivation and in turn brought us all back together as a department. Everyone was smiling, high-fiving, joking and teasing each other!”

The team brought the week to a close with a 1 minute’s silence during the Wave of Light at St. Mary’s Hospital in Manchester, where the research centre is based. As well as teams from our research centre and Rainbow Clinic coming together with this special procession, the building lit up in pink and blue to remember those babies who died before, during or after birth. 

If you’d like to donate towards their efforts to raise funds that will help save more babies’ lives, you can do so here.