GIVEN the blink-and-you-will miss-it pace at which our existence travels, truly understanding how precious life is often comes as an afterthought – if at all.

In fact, only when the light-speeding train of life completely derails, does the true fragility and vulnerability of everything we love and cherish truly hit home.

Losing a baby, be it due to a miscarriage or a complication after birth, is a tragedy beyond comprehension.

According to Tommy’s, every year in the UK there are a quarter of a million miscarriages and in 2018, there were 2,943 stillbirths and 2,131 neonatal deaths.

The death of a loved one - relative or friend - is painful, of course, but losing a child goes against nature.

So, how do parents even begin to move on? For some, the answer is to channel that devastation into a cause for good and to provide support to others.

Clacton and Frinton Gazette:

Maria Gormley, of Clacton, lost her daughter, Laura, 32 years ago when she was stillborn but she now honours her memory by raising awareness of baby loss in the Tendring district.

Last year she arranged for an eye-catching display to engulf the Memorial Garden, in Marine Parade West, in tribute to all babies who have died.

The Remembrance Ribbon Display, which encourages parents to tie blue, white or pink ribbons to a railing, gives people a chance to commemorate their babies’ lives.

In conjunction with the national Baby Loss Awareness Week, running until tomorrow, the poignant gesture has returned for a second year and features more than 500 ribbons.

Ms Gormley, who is working with stillbirth and neonatal death charity, SANDS, wants the display to continue stimulating the discussion about baby loss.

“We hope that our event will spark conversations about baby loss and give bereaved parents an opportunity to talk about their precious babies,” she said.

“It brings me great comfort to know I am able to bring a little comfort to others and help them to remember their babies.

“Organising my display has definitely been a way to keep my daughter’s memory alive.

“But remembering them all in this way is incredibly heart-warming.”

Clacton and Frinton Gazette:

SANDS chief executive Clea Harmer also believes highlighting baby loss will result in more support for grieving parents.

She added: “Baby Loss Awareness Week is a unique opportunity for parents to remember their babies who died.

“I hope Maria’s display helps bereaved families in Clacton feel less isolated and alone in their grief.

“Pregnancy loss or the death of a baby is a tragedy and is devastating for parents and families.

“It’s vital they get the bereavement support and care they need, for as long as they need it.”

Like Maria, Joanne Harris-Beck, 24, and husband Tom, 27, from Clacton, have also worked to turn a terrible tragedy into a force for positivity.

On November 2019, the couple welcomed baby boy Oakley into the world at Colchester Hospital but he quickly became poorly having inhaled meconium in the womb.

Within hours, he had died in his mother’s arms.

Clacton and Frinton Gazette:

After his death, Joanne and Tom set up a charity called Oakley’s Gift, and it has been raising funds for bereavement services in Essex ever since.

Joanne said: “Being able to help other parents has really helped with the grieving process.

“It has kept my mind occupied and it is lovely to receive feedback from other bereaved parents.

“I think they take comfort in getting in contact with someone they know can relate and knows how it feels.”

This year’s display from Maria has already had the desired effect, garnering an even bigger community response and inspiring others to do their bit to help raise awareness.

Kim Moore, owner of Walton’s Red Beach Hut, organised an event called The Big Crochet to encourage people to produce small teddies, which have since been placed on the display.

Among many others, the Colchester Blanketeers also jumped at the chance to contribute to the dislay.

Group leader Susi Long said: ​“We are honoured to make these teddies and hope they will bring comfort to families who have lost a little one beginning their life.

“Baby loss awareness is something very close to our hearts.”

To support Maria Gormley visit