Halifax couple channel their grief into fundraising

Ben Moorhouse and Gaynor Thompson
Ben Moorhouse and Gaynor Thompson

A Halifax couple have won an award for their contribution to fundraising after channelling their grief into helping others.

Ben Moorhouse, a Customer Services Advisor for Together Housing, and his partner, Gaynor Thompson, a Section Coordinator for Marks and Spencer’s, won Fundraiser of the Year at the Pulse Awards after raising over £10,000 for the Steve Prescott Foundation and £13,000 for Calderdale Royal Hospital.

The couple set up an awareness and fundraising cause in memory of their daughter Kallipateira, who was stillborn less than two weeks before her due date.

They hope to raise over £15,000 for a new Maternity Bereavement Suite at Calderdale Royal Hospital. In less than four months, they are well on their way to smashing their target
so are hoping to increase it.

Sadly, on the night of the awards, the couple found out that Gaynor had miscarried. Ben, 38, said: “Only two hours before the awards, we were in hospital to find out that our baby had died at nine weeks. Somehow, with Gaynor bleeding, we made our way to the awards night as we could not let our daughter Kallipateira down.

"The award was in her memory so we were determined to collect it on her behalf.”

Speaking of their earlier loss, Ben said: “Our baby girl Kallipateira died in the womb at 38 weeks of pregnancy. At an extra scan appointment we were told there was no heartbeat. We had to return to the hospital two days later and our baby girl was born sleeping less than two weeks until the due date.

“We had so many hopes and dreams for her. This has broken our hearts in so many ways but I made a promise to our daughter that we would continue to do her proud.

He added: “While we were at the hospital holding our dead daughter in our arms, we could hear babies been born and crying next door on the ward. When we left the ward, we were met by a family coming in with congratulations balloons and a car seat.

“A bereavement room will give parents and their families a quiet, secure and private place where they can spend time to create vital and precious memories.

Ben is also keen to create a support group for men who have suffered baby loss locally.

He said: “Stillbirth is just as devastating for dads as it is for mums but somehow it doesn’t seem socially acceptable for them to grief in the same way. There is this expectation that men have to be the strong ones for the rest of the family.

"I want to break the taboo around it and reassure men going through what I went through that it’s okay not to be okay.”

Ben is no stranger to fundraising, having raised thousands for the Steve Prescott Foundation, in honour of international rugby league player Steve Prescott who died of stomach cancer, aged 39, in November 2013.

Over the last four years, Ben has taken on increasingly extreme challenges, most recently walking the whole of Rhodes in 48 hours. In the previous three years, Ben was joined by his partner Gaynor Thompson but as she was six months pregnant at the time of the summer 2018 challenge, she swapped her place in the walk for a place in the support car.

The Greek island holds a special place in the couple’s hearts so they have chosen to scatter their daughter’s ashes at sea there in August.

Ben is currently training for the Yorkshire Three Peaks on 8 June. The 24 mile challenge includes over 5,00ft of ascent and will see Ben take on the peaks of Pen-y-ghent, Whernside and Ingleborough in under 12 hours.

Next, he hopes to create a new UK record when he takes on the UK Coast to Coast walk on 5 July. He aims to walk the 130 miles from Morecambe to Bridlington in less than 45 hours, non-stop with his Rhodes support team.

Ben said: “We are not strong .We are not brave. We are just doing what we have to do for our daughter and to help others.”

To make a donation towards the Maternity Bereavement Suite at Calderdale Royal Hospital, visit www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/krm2019