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RD&E Heartease room undergoes refurbishment thanks to Ayrton's Dream

The Heartsease bereavement room at the Royal Devon & Exeter Wonford hospital has undergone a homely refurbishment thanks to parents Claire and Mark Rider and their charity Ayrton’s dream. The room on the labour ward is a place set aside for parents who have a stillborn child.

Claire and Mark lost their son Ayrton in May last year. The couple were able to spend over 30 hours saying goodbye in the Heartsease room, but found the room lacking in home comfort. “When I first came into the room I cried; it felt so clinical and cold. But over time I came to love it. This is the kind of room that easily gets forgotten as it’s not used every day, so after talking to one of the matrons Debbie, we decided that we would like to do something to make it more homely.” said Claire.

The couple took the step of asking for donations instead of flowers at Ayrton’s funeral, and used the money to fund an iPod dock for the room. They then set up a charity called Ayrton’s dream, and began ambitious plans for a four mile sponsored sea swim from Torquay to Goodrington sands which they completed in September 2013 raising over £2,600.

Thanks to their efforts, the room has been completely transformed. Heartsease now benefits from new soft furnishings, a TV, a fridge and refreshments as well as new furniture, fresh wallpaper and flowers to make it feel more like home.

Mark Rider said “Our aim was to make an unbearable situation just about bearable. It’s the worse situation you could ever be thrown into, so to have a room like this makes you feel warm inside.”

The couple are busy planning their next sponsored swim for Ayrton’s Dream in September this year, and already have over 40 swimmers signed up. They will continue to support the Heartsease room and hope to help other hospitals with similar bereavement rooms in the south west.

Matron Debbie Stevens, from the RD&E said “The Heartsease room is such a special place for bereaved parents. This is the one place where they can meet and care for their baby. The parents will carry the memories of that room with them forever – it was such a clinical place before, so the fact that it is so warm and comforting now is very meaningful. We are so grateful to Claire and Mark for all of their amazing work.”   

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