A COUPLE from Haltwhistle are using their traumatic experience of stillbirth to help others.

In May, James Webb (27) and Larissa Shield (25) were devastated when they were told they had lost daughter Sophia 36 weeks into Larissa’s pregnancy.

Their world was turned upside down at the news. But they found strength through the help provided by self-funded charity Teardrop Support Group, which works with families who have experienced the death of a baby through miscarriage, stillbirth, neonatal death or termination of pregnancy due to foetal abnormality.

James and Larissa are now sharing their own experiences to make more people aware of the difficulties some families face during pregnancy, and of the work of Teardrop. James and four of his friends are also gearing up to walk the 84-mile Hadrian’s Wall Path this weekend to raise much-needed funds for the charity.

Larissa said: “We want to raise awareness of stillbirth and let others experiencing it know that they are not alone. It’s like it’s a taboo subject, but I think it should be talked about. It’s a scary thing but it does happen.

“People don’t know how to react when they see you, and you can see the panic in their faces. I felt like I was in a fish bowl and everybody was looking at me but wouldn’t say anything.”

Larissa continued: “What Teardrop tries to do is give parents time with their babies, and to create as many memories as possible.

“Nothing is too much for them and they try to pull strings for you, and offer so much support. They help with funeral costs too and they were such a big help to us so we want to let people know of the great work they do.”

James and Larissa were able to spend four days in hospital with Sophia after she was delivered, and a further few days at their Haltwhistle home before the funeral.

They will always cherish that time they spent with their daughter, which was made all the more special by the work of Teardrop which arranged photographs and provided keepsake mementoes.

As a thank you for the support they provided, James and friends Stuie Grant, Daniel Johnson, Callum Foxcroft and Liam Tweddle will take part in the fund-raising walk, to be spread over four days. Already, close to £2,000 has been raised.

James said: “The support has been really good. Usually only friends and families donate, but it seems to have touched a lot of people’s hearts.

“It’s good to have the support of people, and I wasn’t expecting it at all.”

Anyone wishing to support James and his friends on the walk, which starts on Friday, can donate via https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/walkthewallforteardrop?utm_id=107&utm_term=8WjDMJ6WP