A man will take on a 300-mile cycle ride in memory of his unborn twin daughters who died in the womb on Christmas Eve.
Marc and Rachel Smith, of Back Lane, Belton-in-Rutland, tragically lost Arabella and Madeleine after a 27-week pregnancy on December 24 last year.
The twins had developed in the same sac within the womb, a one-in-60,000 form of pregnancy which can lead to serious compli- cations.
The Smiths knew the risk but the girls were developing well and were five weeks away from being born.
Marc was at work at Jim’s Yard restaurant in Stamford, where he is a partner, when he got a life-changing phone call from Rachel.
He said: “My wife called and said she hadn’t felt the girls for five or six hours.
“I told her to get to the hospital. When she got there the doctors couldn’t find a heartbeat.”
Marc, his wife and their son Finley, then just one, spent Christmas Day with Rachel’s parents.
The following day they had to go back to hospital so Rachel could give birth to the lifeless twins.
Marc said: “We were devastated. I was off work for a month and a half.
“We knew the risks but we had got that far and we thought they were going to make it.”
To cope with the grief, Marc began to devote his spare time to fitness.
He started cycling and as the months went on he decided to give something back to the people who helped his family deal with their tragic loss. Those people were Sands, a charity that supports those affected by the death of a baby.
Marc said: “They were absolutely incredible. We had about 14 hours with the girls once they were born. And it’s strange to talk about but it was an amazing thing.
“If it wasn’t for Sands I don’t think we would be able to talk about what happened now.”
Marc decided to take on a challenge and raise funds for Sands to help it provide new equipment and help others in similar situations.
He decided to aim for £3,000, enough to cover a refrigerated bed, which reduces deterioration after birth.
Marc’s friend Andy West, who is head chef at Jim’s Yard, was already a keen cyclist and the pair came up with the idea of riding from the restaurant to Paris. They will set off on January 2 with Jim and Sharon Trevor, who run Jim’s Yard.
He said: “From awful things, good things can come. I would never have wanted to be in that situation but once it happened, the charity really did help.”
To sponsor Marc and Andy, visit www.justgiving.com/A-West.
There will also be a three-course charity dinner at Jim’s Yard on November 20. Tickets are £30 on 01780 756080.