A Rotherham Mum whose baby son died just an hour after his birth is supporting an appeal to transform the bereavement suite at the Jessop Wing Maternity Hospital.

Sheffield Hospitals Charity is aiming to raise £230,000 over the next nine months to create a new bereavement suite where families can spend precious time with the baby they have lost in a comfortable, calming, private space.

Natalie Rebbeck is donating 20cm of her hair to help create a wig for children with cancer – with sponsorship money raised going to the Bereavement Suite Appeal and St Luke’s Hospice.

Five years ago Natalie and her partner Steve, from Brinsworth, were excitedly expecting their first child but Travis was born at 33 weeks suffering from congenital high airways obstructive syndrome (CHAOS), meaning his windpipe was completely blocked so he could not breathe.

Travis died within an hour and his devastated parents were able, with the support of the hospital’s bereavement service team, to spend time with their son over a seven-week period before his funeral thanks to a refrigerated cot in the current bereavement suite.

The Jessop Wing Bereavement Service works with clinical teams to support parents who are given the chance to cuddle, bath and dress their babies in the suite. Memories are made with photos, ink and clay hand and footprints, memory boxes and bears.

Natalie, 30, said: “It was like a living nightmare, but the staff were amazing and we were able to come up at any time to spend time with Travis before the funeral. Having that time got us away from the reality for a bit and even though we went up to the Jessop every day for seven weeks the hardest day was the last one.

“We were in a room with a cuddle cot, a couple of settees and a garden area and even five years ago it was looking a little tired. But, the fact it was there was brilliant and I think the new refurbished bereavement suite will make such a difference at what is a horrible, horrible time.”

Around 8,000 babies are born each year at the Jessop Wing and for most parents this is a joyful celebration of a new life but some parents, like Natalie and Steve, have to deal with the devastating heartbreak of losing their longed-for child.

Kerry Marston Giroux, Bereavement Services Manager, said: “At such an emotionally challenging time, bereaved parents desperately need their own space. They need privacy to be together in welcoming, comfortable, sensitive and serene surroundings.

“We cannot thank Natalie enough for donating her hair to support the transformation of our bereavement suite. It is a project that will make such a difference, making what is an incredibly distressing experience just that little bit easier for the 250 families a year who need our support.”

The current area is being reconfigured and refurbished to provide a purpose-designed, modern facilities which will meet the highest standards. The project will include an extension to provide an additional ‘garden room’ for families to spend time with their babies outside.

Natalie and Steve now have son Austin aged three and daughter Elsie who will be two next month. The couple, who got married last year, have lots to look forward to with a dream honeymoon to Disneyworld planned for later in the year.

But Natalie added: “I always say I am a Mum of three and we will never forget Travis or the time we had with him and I would really urge people to support this appeal.”

Support the Bereavement Suite Appeal today