Grieving couple's mission to raise funds for Burnley hospital charity that helped them after devastating loss of their newborn daughter

A well known former professional boxer is preparing to complete a staggering Christmas Eve challenge to raise cash for a charity that helped a grieving couple when their newborn daughter died.

By Susan Plunkett
Tuesday, 15th December 2020, 5:01 pm
Hayley and Simon with their precious baby girl, Minnie-Mai who died when she was just three hours old
Hayley and Simon with their precious baby girl, Minnie-Mai who died when she was just three hours old

Sam Larkin hopes to complete TWO marathons in around 10 hours, in four 13 mile stretches from his gym, Kay's Boxing Academy in Colne, to Skipton and back to clock up 52 miles.

Sam, whose career was cut short following the discovery of a bleed on the brain, has now thrown himself into coaching both children and adults at his gym.

Keen to do something for charity Sam (29) was moved when he heard about a campaign by Colne couple, Simon Coulton and Hayley Hargadon, to raise as much money and awareness as possible for the Friends of Serenity charity which helped them after their baby, Minnie-Mai, died earlier this year.

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Hayley and Simon with their four sons, Conner (10) Jack (nine) Thomas (eight) and Deacon (five)

Sam, who lives in Barrowford and has a partner, Giorgia Bates, said: "I have been wanting to do something for charity for some time now. I know Simon and when I saw what they has gone through I just decided I wanted to help."

Sam, who has a four-year-old son Tommy, has set up a gofundme page and anyone who would like to make a donation is asked to click HERE.The Friends of Serenity was set up by Joanne Edwards in 2013 after she lost her son Luke as a result of Trisomy 13. The charity aims to preserve and protect the health of sick and pregnant women and those who suffer miscarriage, still birth or neonatal death.

The charity was not something Hayley and Simon were aware of until June 16th this year when they lost their precious daughter, who died when she was just three hours and 22 minutes old. The brave couple were given the devastating news at Hayley's 20 week scan that their daughter had the rare condition, lethal skeletal dysplasia, a severe bone disorder for which there is no treatment.

Hayley said: " We didn't tell anyone about this and choose to continue with the pregnancy as I could not make the decision to terminate and end her life even though there was only a one per cent chance of her surviving.

Hayley's sister Jemma Hargadon got the chance to hold her precious niece Minnie-Mai

"I had to give her that chance to live no matter how small it was."

Minnie-Mai defied doctors, who said she would not make it through the pregnancy and labour, and she was born at 34 weeks at the Lancashire Women and Newborn Centre in Burnley.

After Minnie-Mai died Hayley and Simon (47) were able to spend time with her in the Serenity Suite where they were they could bathe and dress her and be with her for as long as they needed. A closeknit family, Hayley's sister, Jemma was also able to hold her tiny niece.

Hayley said: "The midwife gave us a box with a memory card and a camera to take lots of photos there were other comforts in the box also donated by the Friends of Serenity charity.

Gym owner and former professional boxer Sam Larkin will attempt to run two marathons on Christmas Eve to raise money for the Friends of Serenity charity

"The charity also supplies the 'cold cots,' bedding and other comforts that you need and allow you that time with your baby. Without the charity your baby would be taken straight from you as they don't have the facilities to keep you and your baby together."

It was the fantastic work of the charity that spurred Hayley and Simon, who is operations manager at Unique Clean, Colne to speak publicly for the first time about the heartbreak they have suffered.

Hayley said: "I would lilke to raise as much awareness and money as possible for this fantastic charity and what it does to help families.

"They will never know the comfort they gave me by letting me hold, bath, and dress my baby girl. I will hold those memories for the rest of my life and they gave me those memories.

Former boxer Sam with his little boy Tommy.

"Nobody thinks about amazing charities like Friends of Serenity I never even knew it existed because, like everyone else, you think 'It won't happen to me' but trust me, it does and it breaks you in a way you can't explain.

"It's just a numbing heartache that you can never heal from, you just have to carry on and learn to live with it."

Licensee at the Duke of Lancaster pub in Colne, Hayley is also a full time university student of criminology and sociology. She paid tribute to her tutors at UCLan,Burnley for their encouragement and support, saying: "They wouldn't let me give up although there were many times when I wanted to."

The couple are now preparing for Christmas with their little boy Deacon who is five. Hayley is also mum to Conner (10) and eight-year-old Thomas. Simon also has a son Jack who is nine.

Hayley said: "It was difficult explaining to the boys why Minnie-Mai wasn't coming home to us.

"But they are too young at the moment to understand this terrible pain so we have to make it a happy Christmas for their sakes."

Hayley got to spend precious time with her baby girl Minnie-Mai who lived for just three hours.

Along with Sam's marathons, Hayley has already raised £270 with a raffle and a beer raffle is also being held.

Keeley Cooper, Jodie Braithwaite and Aimie Houston, who are friends of Hayley's, are planning to do a sponsored sky dive next year and, when Covid-19 allows, a fancy dress pub crawl is on the cards.

And it is Hayley's dearest wish to raise enough money pay for a 'cold cot' in time for what would have been Minnie-Mai's first birthday next year.

Anyone who would like to buy tickets or donate prizes for the raffle can do so by contacting Hayley by email on [email protected] or contact Hayley Ann or Debi Richardson on Facebook. Tickets will also be available behind the bar at several pubs in Colne when they are allowed to open.