After overcoming another tough period of disruption to their usual fundraising activities, Coventry-based charity The Luca Foundation is focused on continuing its award-winning support to grieving parents across the UK. In 2012, Sharon Luca-Chatha’s son, Luca, was stillborn at almost full term – ripping Sharon’s world apart. To support bereaved parents like herself, Sharon started a charitable foundation in memory of her son. Since launching, she and her team have raised thousands of pounds for the purchase and repair of refrigerated cuddle cots – a device which allows grieving parents extra time with their stillborn babies. Now, 10 years on from Luca’s tragic death, Sharon is aiming to make an even wider impact on the care of bereaved parents across the UK.
“A parent’s worst nightmare is to lose their child,” said Sharon. “We were beyond devastated; from the moment he died on the Monday to the Thursday when I gave birth to him, everything was in a daze. We were not ready for the next blow – the limited time we had with him, knowing we would then never see him again. After holding onto Luca as long as we could – just a few hours – we had to hand him over to be taken to the mortuary. This caused us such trauma. We just cried uncontrollably.”
The years following the loss of Luca were incredibly difficult for Sharon and her family, and even the birth of her “rainbow” child Ky was met with challenges.
“Ky was delivered exactly a week before Luca’s first birthday, and his cord was wrapped around his neck twice, so if he had gone any longer, he would have suffocated and we’d have lost a second child. It is vitally important to make sure you take responsibility for your baby’s growth chart to make sure they are monitored closely. 80% of stillbirths are preventable, and we are aiming to spread awareness of how to avoid this wherever we can.”
Despite the unthinkable pain the loss of Luca brought, Sharon still takes inspiration from her son 10 years after his passing, including adding his name to their surname.
“As I look back at Luca’s stillbirth, I realise that was the defining moment when I decided I wanted every grieving parent to have access to a cuddle cot. The cot acts like a refrigerator so it keeps the body cold, which allows the parents extra precious time to help the grieving process when at its most raw. Luca is leaving a legacy that is bigger than all of us, and we are immensely proud.”
Since its launch in 2018, the Luca Foundation have completed 18 repairs on cuddle cots, and they have supplied three brand-new cots to hospitals to give precious more time to bereaved parents. The foundation’s incredible work has received patron support from former TV actress Holly Matthews (Waterloo Road, Casualty and Byker Grove), and Hollywood script writer Marie Rowe.
“Cuddle cots are not seen as essential, but I believe there should be a fully refurbished cot in every hospital in the UK. The difference it would have made to me and my husband, Jas, in our own mourning process would have been life-altering. I considered attempting to take my own life following the loss of Luca, and I do not want any other parent to go through the same unthinkable scenario we did.”
The Luca Foundation has recently accepted the help of local business coaching firm ActionCOACH Warwick, for gifted sessions. Upon coming across The Luca Foundation, local business coach, Hana Smiddy, was blown away by Sharon’s incredible resilience.
“To use such hardship to help others is truly inspirational,” said Hana. “Many of us have been touched by someone who has had a similar experience, and after learning about the foundation, I was incredibly moved by everything Sharon has achieved. I want to help Sharon and her team impact even more people’s lives. By supporting her with putting systems in place around marketing, fundraising and finance, Sharon and her team can continue to build on the incredible work they are doing across the UK.”
The Luca Foundation is hosting a dinner and dance to mark Luca’s 10th birthday at Combe Abbey, Coventry, on 25th June. If you are interested in attending the event or want to learn more about their work, please visit their website