This In Focus interview is with The Founding Members of Remember My Baby and was conducted by Sarah Fitzgerald-Jones.  Sarah says :-

This interview we bring you is from three of the co-founders of the charity Remember My Baby Nicky Heppenstall, Ruth Trotter and Cheryl Johnson.  Remember My Baby is a remembrance photography charity only launched a year ago.  What the team of co-founders and volunteers have managed to do in just one year is more than outstanding, what they have been able to give to grieving parents is incredible and truly beautiful.

The National Photographic Society support this charity whole heartedly, every time an image is entered into The National Photographic Society’s monthly competition a donation is made to Remember My Baby.

We would like to mention all of the co-founders Nicky Heppenstall, Ruth Trotter, Cheryl Johnson, Michele Selvey, Heidi Fuentes, Anna Marina Dearsly, Alison Bryan and Jocelyn Conway as each one of these ladies have worked so hard in making this charity possible along with every volunteer who has signed up to be either a voluntary photographer or a voluntary digital retoucher.

This is a very heartwarming interview and we at The National Photographic society wish this charity all the best for the next coming year and congratulate Remember My Baby for achieving so much and giving so much in their first year.


1: Firstly congratulations on your first year since the launch of Remember My Baby. This UK charity has been running for a year now, tell us how the charity came about and what it is all about.

Thank you! Remember My baby was born out of the need for a dedicated UK charity to provide Baby Remembrance Photography (BRP). Volunteer Photographers go into hospitals to provide images to parents losing their baby before during or shortly after birth. This is a totally free service and we are working closely with a growing number of hospitals to facilitate making the choice of BRP available to as many parents as possible.  – Nicky

I met up with a few girls who were passionate about stillborn bereavement photography while I was running a trial with Ninewells Hospital in Scotland.. after about 5 years of trying to get the charity going under the umbrella of an overseas charity already established.  Unfortunately we couldn’t make it work under their regulations and we decided that it was best for UK families that we formed a UK charity.. so Remember My Baby was formed by 8 ladies based all over UK. –  Ruth

2: There is so much passion and drive behind all of your co-founders and volunteers that over the past year this hasn’t dwindled at all in fact the spark continues to keep growing stronger and stronger. What keeps your passion flowing the way it has and still does?

I lost my stillborn daughter 14 years ago. As a bereaved parent, with only a handful of not so great photos, taken on film, I wish I could have had better images. If this happened to me now I’d get better images, more images – some parents have no images at all, some parents only have smartphone images which are lost when their phone gets stolen. I’m driven by my own loss to make a difference to other parents experiencing the same loss. – Nicky

A friend of mine had a stillborn baby on Christmas Day over 20 years ago and all they had was one polaroid picture that they had enlarged to 10×8 and it sat in pride of place on their mantelpiece.  It really stayed with me and as my photography career evolved I became aware of remembrance photography and knew then that was what I was meant to do.  So no family would only ever have one harsh polaroid picture.  – Cheryl

The feeling when we have helped a family, even if it is just a tiny bit, in their grief keeps me going and instils that what we do is so very important. – Ruth

3: Why do people volunteer for Remember My Baby and how could the charity encourage more to volunteer for this charity?

Many of our volunteers have suffered a loss of their own or been touched by the loss of someone close to them. Others can empathise because they recognise just how fortunate they are to have healthy children when there are no guarantees. We reach out to potential volunteers at trade events, via media and social media. We encourage existing volunteers to recruit in their area to build a team around each maternity unit – we can’t have too many volunteers, and there is no room for any territorialism in our work. With several Volunteer Photographers around each unit we maximise our availability and also protect our Volunteers’ emotional wellbeing and minimise the impact on their family and business lives. Ideally each volunteer would only undertake a few sessions a year.  – Nicky

It really isn’t as scarey as you probably think.  That little baby is not going to do you any harm, the family are just extremely grateful.  It’s the fear of the unknown and controlling your emotions.  Me personally and every other volunteer I have spoken to use the camera as a shield & go into pro mode.  – Cheryl

Photographers and digital artists volunteer for lots of reason, some may have experienced a loss or know someone who has had a loss.. not that it’s compulsory – we have many members from all walks of life that have various reasons for applying.  We are extremely grateful to them all for coming on board as without them helping we couldn’t grow.  It may be that they aren’t called upon often, or even at all.. but if we don’t have them there then we cannot target more hospitals and grow. People can help in all sorts of ways but the social media sharing really helps to spread the word to families and to photographer. – Ruth

4: You have all photographed babies which have sadly died during pregnancy / birth or shortly after, how do you prepare yourself mentally and emotionally for such important remembrance photography? For the volunteers how are they supported by the charity?

The time spent with a family, out of our comfort zone, is very short compared to the prospect of the family’s years coming to terms with their loss. The fear of the session is worse than the session itself, and professionalism takes over as we go about our task. We run training sessions offering strategies for coping, and we have an excellent support group on facebook where volunteers can hook up with their local colleagues, ask advice, and keep up to date with progress as we welcome new hospitals on board. Co-founders and Regional Coordinators are available via email or phone for one to one support and guidance, and we also have a volunteer counsellor should anyone feel the need. – Nicky

I am very busy, I have a family to look after, run a business.. I don’t have any time to dwell on things too much which is maybe just as well. I always take a bit of time out with the family as it always reminds me how precious life is and that any second life can stop.  Volunteers can be supported via the Facebook private page of by contacting their regional coordinator. It’s their job to support – contact the photographer after a session to ensure that they are ok and that they know you’re there in case they need to off load.  I personally have a contact (although I haven’t had the need) based at the hospital – provided by the NHS themselves.  We also have a counsellor who we can call upon should anyone require it.  As I always say though, this is not our grief this is the families grief and although I can feel sad and emotional at times I do realise that I walk away I am very busy, I have a family to look after, run a business.. I don’t have any time to dwell on things too much which is maybe just as well. I always take a bit of time out with the family as it always reminds me how precious life is and that any second life can stop.  Volunteers can be supported via the Facebook private page of by contacting their regional coordinator. It’s their job to support – contact the photographer after a session to ensure that they are ok and that they know you’re there in case they need to off load.  I personally have a contact (although I haven’t had the need) based at the hospital – provided by the NHS themselves.  We also have a counsellor who we can call upon should anyone require it.  As I always say though, this is not our grief this is the families grief and although I can feel sad and emotional at times I do realise that I walk away. – Ruth

5: Sadly for various reasons many parents in the UK find themselves in a situation where Remember My Baby’s services are needed, how would parents know how to contact you initially? What do parents receive?

We are working hard to raise awareness of our charity’s work with midwives and other health professionals as a priority because they are best placed to share our information with the parents in their care. We have also built up a following of over 5000 on our facebook page which includes photographers, midwives and other health professionals but also many bereaved parents who share us. Our website features a Find a Photographer search facility so anyone can contact us to request a session.

Parents receive black and white digital images from their session on one of RMB’s USB memory sticks 4 – 6 weeks following their sessions. They can also request an image or to be sent sooner for inclusion in their baby’s funeral arrangements. Images are held by RMB indefinitely in case a family lose their images, they can be digitally downloaded for free. – Nicky

The hospital usually contacts me direct as I have already established a relationship with them.  Families can find a photographer from the website or hospitals can contact us direct to.  Families have an album in the Tulip Suite based in maternity, they also have one in neonatal unit to enable the midwives to talk to the families about what we do.  We have leaflets to also so they can also be shared. – Ruth

6: In the past year Remember My Baby has really grown, what are your medium and long term goals?

Our goal is to have a minimum of one Volunteer Photographer linked with every maternity unit and birth centre in the UK. We wish for all bereaved parents to be offered the choice of Remembrance Photography.  – Nicky

To recruit as many photographers as we can to enable us to have a pool of photographers that we can continue to call upon should the need arise. Long term we would like at least one photographer linked with every maternity unit in the UK. – Ruth

7: Cheryl, tell us a little about NICU and the importance of this.

I have been invited by the Lead Palliative Care Nurse for London to present on each of the 12 seminars planned for this year.  Offering to link RMB with  Neonatal Intensive Care Units to capture precious memories of parents and perhaps siblings with their very poorly baby, which can provide comfort later, a tangible memento of a short but precious life. – Cheryl

8: Lastly here is a non question! If you would like to say anything about Remember My Baby and what an incredible charity it already is say it here from the heart! 

I am immensely proud to be involved with Remember My Baby, and part of the incredible team moving this forward for the benefit of parents facing unimaginable loss. – Nicky

As we approach our first anniversary, I am very humbled by the other cofounders without them I could not have got this going to the extent it has.  I am incredibly grateful to the members for standing by us and believing in what we are doing.. without them on board it wouldn’t have grown so quickly and we would be struggling to get things going.  With their support we can now grow the charity to where we would like it to be. – Ruth

These are the most important photos I will ever take and I give every family 110%. – Cheryl

More information about this incredible charity can be found on their website at www.remembermybaby.org.uk