Jennifer…

Here at The Molly and Mia Foundation, we are extremely grateful for all those who organise events to raise funds, and awareness,  for the charity.  These people put a lot of hard work and effort into organising these events, and we feel it’s only appropriate that we give them some recognition.  We will be featuring some of our valued fundraisers on our blog every month.

This month we got talking to Jennifer Neill, who organised a fantastic “Vintage Tea Party” themed dance, raffle and auction in the Royal British Legion in Cookstown.

How did you hear about the Molly and Mia Foundation?

I heard about it from Dianna, we knew each other when we were younger. About 2 years ago I found her through Facebook and added her.  It was then that I seen she had started the Molly and Mia Foundation, I lost my son Matthew to stillbirth and didn’t know that Dianna had went through a similar experience.  I phoned Dianna and told her about Matthew and she invited me to the group.

Why did you choose the Molly and Mia Foundation?

We (Alastair – Jennifer’s husband) lost Matthew in 2002.  It was a Saturday and I was worried that I hadn’t felt the baby move and went to hospital.  We already had Lucy (then 3) so I knew something was amiss.  It was then that we found out that the baby had passed.  Matthew was born on the Tuesday.  We were devastated.  I found it very had to talk about and bottled a lot of my grief up.  It was only through meeting with Dianna and coming along to the group that I finally felt able to talk about Matthew.  Dianna gave me a lot of strength.  After two years of meeting with the Molly and Mia group I got the courage to do something in his memory.  I wanted to give back to the charity for their help.

How did the Charity help?

The Foundation is just like a family, such an easy group to talk to.  I feel comfortable talking about Matthew.  Dianna has been amazing, a tower of strength.  There was a balloon release at the Memory Garden in October 2013 and I had a balloon for Matthew.  We go to the garden a few times a year.  It’s nice to go and sit in the quiet and remember him. Then at Christmas there was a Carol Service and we all got baubles to write our baby’s names on and hung them on the tree.  It was beautiful!

Most recently I went to a pamper day in the Galgorm that Dianna and Emma organised.  The girls could not have done enough for us.  Dianna lifted us that morning and took us up so we didn’t have to worry about getting there.  The whole day was so well organised, an awful lot of work went into it.  Lots of tiny touches.  There was no pressure to talk, we were just there to relax and no rushing about or anything.  We had lunch, than a spa treatment, after that back up to the room to get our hair and make-up professionally done.  It was a real confidence boost.

We then had our photographs taken by a photographer who was going to be taking us home in a minibus.  He put the camera in his car and drove off, we thought he was away to get the minibus.  We walked around the garden and then spotted two white stretch limos.  We thought they were there for a wedding party, we were messing around and getting our picture taken in front of them when Dianna announced that they were for taking us home.  It was a fantastic surprise for us all!

How did the fundraiser go?

I organised a Vintage themed dance to raise money for the Molly and Mia foundation and Stewartstown Primary School which my 3 youngest attend (Emily – 10, Scott – 8 and Sophie – 5).  I decorated the Legion with some vintage touches, tea cups, flowers and bird cages.  Lots of little things, like a carousel wheel of treats, scones etc, some personalised cupcakes for the two charities really added to the theme.

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Carousel Wheel of TreatsPrize givingMore Prize giving

 

Ben Currie and Band

I was overwhelmed by peoples generosity – I had 41 prizes donated for the raffle and auction!  I really can’t thank everyone enough for the raffle prizes and donations.  A huge thank you to everyone who came along on the night itself.  I had great support.  Ben Currie and his band did the music and they were great.  By the end of the night we had raised £1146.  Myself and Alastair rounded that up to £1200 so that both charities got £600.

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Jennifer presenting the cheque to Dianna

Thanks for your fundraising Jennifer, you done Matthew proud!

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Pamper Days…

This post finishes up our feature in  the May 2013 edition of “Local Women” Magazine.  It features the discussion of our fist Pamper Day.  All mother’s deserve a bit of pampering, and we can’t think of any more deserving than those who have lost their little ones.

Dianna says that although it’s been three-and-a-half years since she lost the twins and has since had a little boy (Jacob), that she and her husband always remember Molly an Mia.  Both agree that the work of the Foundation has helped them come to terms with their loss and helping others has given them something to focus on.

The charity has now started to work directly with families who have lost babies and earlier this year the foundation’s first pamper day was held.  Dianna says those who attended were under no pressure to discuss their experiences but many of the ladies hadn’t talked before about their loss and all agreed the day was therapeutic.

Dianna says “It’s important to remember that people grieve differently and not to put pressure on people to do or say anything.  The day culminated with a candlelight ceremony in memory of lost children and the girls who attended thought it was fabulous.

The project was managed by  Dianna’s niece Emma McKee and the Foundation hopes to run two similar events like this a year for mums who have lost babies either through still births, miscarriages or infant loss.

Through consultation with mums the Foundation is now gathering information to launch a self-help booklet for mums to share help mechanisms from others who have gone through this type of loss as well as compiling poems for anniversaries, birthdays etc.

Dianna says “I am personally very proud of what everybody has pulled together to achieve and the fantastic dedication that everyone has shown in Molly and Mia’s memory.”

The Molly and Mia Foundation welcome families to join them as well as volunteers to help them fund-raise to keep their good work progressing.

Thank you to the Egan Family

 

Roisin and Matt Egan donated two One Direction Tickets to the Molly and Mia Foundation to raffle off in order to raise some funds for our charity.  We are extremely grateful of the generosity of all our supporters, and were overwhelmed by two tickets to the UK’s hottest boyband! Roisin and Matt donated them in memory of their sons – Joshua and Dylan.  Aisling was the lucky winner and headed to Croke Park in Dublin to see them on Friday.

Roisin presenting Aisling with her tickets

We want you…

We want you!

Have you lost a baby through miscarriage, still birth or infant loss? 

If so we want to hear from you.

We are having our first meeting with the mums to hear what you want and/or need and to discuss our exciting plans of what we have put together for you. Please dress up as a TV crew are coming and you might spot yourself in the audience.

Get in touch with us to confirm your attendance.

Meeting Friday 30th may in Benburb at 6p.m.

Please come along to support us in raising awareness and support.

The Memory Garden…

A memory garden seemed like the perfect tribute to the twins, a place where they could visit to reflect and have a quiet place to grieve.  As the saying goes, “Mighty oaks from little acorns grow” and the Memory garden became so much more to the local (and beyond) community.

We feature more of our  story from the May 2013 edition of “Local Women” Magazine below.

Dianna and her sister Glena Khan then went about to find a suitable location to set up a memory garden.  The idea is to offer a space for those who have lost a baby through miscarriage, still birth or infancy and equally welcomes families from the locality, neighbouring towns and villages to enjoy.

Glena successfully applied for funding from the HPA to open the community memory garden and Dianna says it has been the most amazing project involving so much hard work.  This garden will be open to all the community to grow fruit and vegetables as well as a quiet, reflective place to visit.

Dianna acquired the ground from the Lowrys of Blessingbourne Country Estate which is easily accessible in Fivemiletown.  The first phase of the project which is managed by Glena has been completed with all the work being carried out by volunteers including builders and labourers who spent endless hours restoring the row of sheds to be used for various projects.  There is also the fabulous  memory garden in a circle of beds; all planted white, symbolic of peace.

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The Garden before the work began

The sheds before work began

The sheds before work began

Work in Progress on the shed

Work in Progress on the shed

Hard at work prepping the garden

Hard at work prepping the garden

Stage one complete!

Stage one complete

Councillor Frances Burton, Deputy Mayor of Dungannon and South Tyrone Borough Council has described the creation of the community memorial garden as ‘a real labour of love’.  Cllr Burton welcomed and praised the ongoing work of the Molly and Mia Foundation who secured part funding from the Public Health Agency to develop the designated area.

The Deputy Mayor said “I commend the Foundation for their vision in completely transforming this corner which has also been welcomed and supported by the Chamber of Commerce.  I hope along with the others to support the Foundation in their fundraising efforts by seeking foundation and walking nine miles in the Belfast marathon in May.  I would encourage encourage everyone to visit this very special place to see for themselves the marvellous work which has been done.”

Dianna says the whole local community has been amazed at the transformation of the garden as it previously was an eyesore.  Volunteers have come as far as Garrison and Ballycastle.  People have a shared passion for the project and even people who haven’t lost babies have got to know about it and have come to help – it’s been amazing.”

The Charity would like to call on families from all parts of Northern Ireland to plant a tree in memory of their baby and Dianna recons it will be a lovely family event.  The family must pre-book for £25 and for that the charity provides the tree and a gardener and each family is booked in for their own session to plant their own tree.  A name plaque can also be ordered if the family would like that.

Balloon Release in October 2013

Balloon Release in October 2013

Their Story…

We would like to tell you all about why we started the “Molly and Mia Foundation” and why the work means so much to us.  Our story has touched many hearts and is sadly all too common as we have created a network of families that have experienced similar heartbreak.

Molly and Mia Millar are the twin daughters of Maurice and Dianna Millar, 39.  They were born on the 25th of November 2009.  They were much anticipated by their parents Maurice and Dianna and their older brothers Jack (10), James (9) and Johnston (6).  Unfortunately due to a devastating placenta abruption they died at birth.  The family have since welcomed another little boy Jacob (3), but Molly and Mia are never far from their thoughts.

Our story was featured in the May 2013 edition of “Local Women” Magazine.  We feel it sums up why we decided to channel our energy into the charity.

Three and a half years ago Eglish businesswoman Dianna Millar who owns Tiles @ Floors of Distinction, Eglish was delighted to discover she was pregnant with identical twins.  With three lively boys already in the household there was much anticipation and excitement in the family at the thought of new siblings.  Unfortunately, though, that was not to be as Dianna unexpectedly suffered a placenta abruption and subsequently lost her cherished babies.  Here Dianna speaks candidly to Local Women about her heartache and the establishment of the Molly and Mia Foundation in memory of her twin girls.

Dianna says being pregnant with the twins was a much more difficult pregnancy than her previous ones.  However, Dianna says that for the most part she felt great and was looking forward to the birth of the twins – not knowing at that stage if it was boys or girls she was carrying.

Unfortunately at 30.5 weeks into the pregnancy, Dianna tragically suffered a severe “grade three” placenta abruption.  Heading into the hospital believing the babies were fine, she was immediately scanned and taken for an emergency caesarean and lost so much blood on the operating table she almost died.

Dianna says “When my husband Maurice arrived he thought he was coming to welcome new babies.  Because of what was going on I was drifting in and our of consciousness but I could hear them telling me that one baby, Molly had died.”

To add further to the devastating news, twin Mia only lived 17 minutes as medics fought with all they had to save her.

With Dianna herself extremely ill and fighting for her life she says things were very hard to accept and says it is hard to describe the pain, the emptiness and the awful silence.

In the meantime, husband Maurice and the family were trying to organise the funeral and Dianna says she will always remember they all wanted her to have everything exactly the way she wanted.  She says “I was so ill but I will never forget the kindness of all the people who sourced and made items for the funeral. This means so much to me.”

Fortunately, Maurice had the foresight to get his friend to get photos taken of the girls as the hospital camera was broken.  Dianna says that this meant a great deal and gave them the idea of fundraising for memory boxes to go to the hospitals all over Northern Ireland.

One would imagine that in a house full of boys that losing little girls would increase the feeling of loss, but Dianna is quick to point out that the babies’ sex was not the issue – it was simply the tragic loss of life in such unexpected circumstances.

Not one to give in to self-pity, it wasn’t long after the crushing event that Dianna began to channel her energies into helping stillbirth and neonatal charity Sands.  The charity was trying to get funding to put memory boxes into all hospitals in Northern Ireland and that marked the initiation of Dianna’s fundraising.

Dianna says “You have two options when tragedy strikes; you can give up and let yourself be consumed by the grief or you can choose to go on living.  There was only one option for me.

“At the beginning our primary aim was to raise enough money for 20 boxes for Craigavon Hospital where Molly and Mia were born.  The response we got was phenomenal and it was during this time that we set up the Molly and Mia Foundation.”

From then Dianna and her friend Terri and a team of willing volunteers formed the charity and raised funds through raffles or events.

Terri also worked endlessly hard for months getting the charity registered with the SELB.  The result has been summer, Halloween, and Christmas schemes where the charity runs bakery and cookery courses for any children in the local area all under the auspices of the Molly and Mia Foundation – And the charity continued to grow.

 

We will feature more of your interview about the hard work our charity and volunteers have helped us achieve over the coming weeks.

Angels in the sky

Angels in the sky