'We want our children to be remembered in everything'

Image of Neal and Els Riley
Neal and Els Riley said their "world fell apart" when they lost two babies in 2023 [Family handout]

A couple who lost a baby son and daughter in the same year are fundraising for the hospital that helped them through their "unimaginable" grief.

Neal and Els Riley were supported by staff at The Benson Suite, located in Salisbury District Hospital's maternity department.

The specialist charity suite provides a private space for bereaved parents to spend time with their children and deal with their grief.

“We want our children to be remembered in everything we do," the couple said.

Mr and Mrs Riley, who are originally from Dorset, said their "world fell apart" in 2023 after they lost their son Oscar in January, and their daughter, Sophie, in November.

“2023 was unimaginable, totally devastating, and life-changing for all the wrong reasons," they said.

They added that life would have been "even more difficult" without the help of staff at The Benson Suite, who phoned them weekly to check in on their wellbeing and signposted them to support groups.

'Meant the world'

“The Benson Suite is so important," Mr and Mrs Riley said.

"It provides a space away from the maternity ward where you can spend time with your baby. You aren’t rushed and can have all the time you need.

"Although it is a hospital setting, The Benson Suite doesn’t feel clinical in the slightest. It meant the world to us both to have this support available.”

Image of the Rileys with staff from the Benson Suite at Salisbury District Hospital
Mr Riley's 72-hole golf challenge raised more than £4,500 [Salisbury NHS Foundation Trust]

The suite is funded entirely through the hospital's Stars Appeal charity fund.

In August, Mr Riley raised more than £4,500 through a 72-hole golf challenge.

On 23 June, he will be tackling a 100-hole golf challenge at Rushmore Golf Club in Salisbury, in memory of Oscar and Sophie.

So far, his fundraising total stands at more than £7,000.

"Fundraising keeps their memories alive and will help families who go through the tragic loss of their child," the couple said.

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