Virtual 5k to help provide memory boxes for victims of Covid-19

A Teesside University academic has organised a virtual 5k to raise money for a local charity which helped her in the most difficult circumstances and is now providing additional support to victims of Covid-19.

Dr Samantha Harrison, Reader in Respiratory Rehabilitation in the University’s School of Health & Life Sciences, is aiming to raise money for 4Louis, a charity which supports families through miscarriage, stillbirth and child loss and provides memory boxes for bereaved parents.

During the Covid-19 outbreak, 4Louis is now providing hospitals with memory boxes for families of Covid-19 victims.

The charity is very close to Samantha’s heart after they provided invaluable support to her and her husband Dan during the most difficult of times. On 10 May 2017, their daughter, Molly, was stillborn at 20 weeks, after being told at their 20-week scan their baby had cysts on both kidneys, meaning there was very little amniotic fluid and the lungs could not develop.

In June 2018, Samantha and Dan found out they were expecting their second child. At the 20-week scan, they were informed their baby’s head circumference was small and they needed regular scans to monitor the baby’s head growth. An MRI scan at 28-weeks delivered bad news, and tragically on 3 December 2018, their son, Dylan, was stillborn at 30 weeks.

Samantha and Dan received memory boxes from 4Louis for Molly and Dylan, and the charity also donate cuddle cots to hospitals which meant they could spend precious extra time with Dylan after he was born.

Samantha said: “The memory boxes for Molly and Dylan meant such a lot. We received a certificate of life for Molly, which was very special as she would never have a birth certificate. With Dylan, we were able to keep a lock of his hair, and make little footprints and handprints to treasure.

“When I heard 4Louis were providing memory boxes for families of Covid-19 victims, this seemed so important because when you are grieving, you don’t necessarily think about making memories, but these memories are what you will treasure in the years following a loss.”

“The families of Covid-19 victims don’t have the opportunity to visit their loved ones in hospital or say goodbye, so the memory boxes are especially important.”

In 2019, Samantha and Dan organised a 5k run to raise money for 4Louis, supported by Darlington Harriers and Athletics Club, and raised around £4,000. It was such a success that they planned to run the event again this year, but when the run was unable to go ahead due to Covid-19, they decided to take the 5k online.

Currently 161 people have signed up to the virtual event so far and Samantha is looking for more volunteers to take part or make a donation to the charity to support their vital work.

Professor Cormac Ryan, Professor of Clinical Rehabilitation, is taking part in the run, and said: “I wanted to take part in the this fun-run to support 4Louis, a wonderful charity who provide crucial support for families who are grieving following a miscarriage, stillbirth, neonatal or child death. I have friends who received support from 4Louis during a very difficult time and I know how much of a difference 4Louis makes.”

The entry fee for the virtual 5k is £10 for adults and £5 for children, which goes to the charity. Participants are encouraged to run 5k on or before 10 May 2020, which would have been Molly’s third birthday. Some participants have been walking, cycling and rowing 5k instead. To sign up, visit Race Best.

Samantha is also encouraging those taking part to take a photo or upload their runs on Strava, or another app, and upload to her Facebook event page. Everyone who enters will receive a medal in the post.

Donations can be made online on Samantha’s Just Giving page.  

  • Pictured above (left to right): Tracey Mcgurrel (4Louis), Dan Richardson, Dr Samantha Harrison, Paul Cook (Darlington Harriers and Athletics Club), Bob Mcgurrel (4Louis).