Pictures taken by Kirsty Edmonds.

Northampton grassroots match for grieving dads raises thousands for stillborn charity

A special team of dads who have lost their babies, either during pregnancy or after birth, have done something remarkable to remember them and raise money for charity at the same time.

SANDS United was started by dads devastated by the deaths of their children during pregnancy or shortly after birth, in Spring last year. The team was put together to provide a sanctuary for men who have been affected by the loss of a child and to harness the power of physical activity in helping with mental health and allows men to talk freely among other men who have shared the same experience. To raise money for the Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Society (SANDS) - the grassroots football hosted a family fun day and charity match at Kettering Town Football Club against the 'special 11' on Saturday (May 25), which raised £3,400. Former Saints player, Paul Diggin, and current Cobblers captain, David Buchanan, played as part of the opposition, as well as Ayden Callaghan from Hollyoaks. SANDS FC player Nick Hilliker, who is behind organising the event with founder Rob Allen and their wives Sarah and Charlotte, said: "We just wanted to sell the tickets as £10 can support parents through the bereavement of their child, with counselling, and that was the main goal." "Sadly around one baby dies every 90 minutes so by playing the game of football we will be able to support that family. "It was an amazing day for everyone and I’ve already been told we need to arrange next years."

The game ended 2-2 with goals from Marc and Andrew on the 'special 11' and John and Luke for SANDS. Pictures taken by Kirsty Edmonds.
The game ended 2-2 with goals from Marc and Andrew on the 'special 11' and John and Luke for SANDS. Pictures taken by Kirsty Edmonds.
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Biodegradable balloons were released into the sky to remember the players' little ones, and each balloon had a special message on for them. Pictures taken by Kirsty Edmonds.
Biodegradable balloons were released into the sky to remember the players' little ones, and each balloon had a special message on for them. Pictures taken by Kirsty Edmonds.
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The game was played at Kettering Town Football Club pitch. Pictures taken by Kirsty Edmonds.
The game was played at Kettering Town Football Club pitch. Pictures taken by Kirsty Edmonds.
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Pictures taken by Kirsty Edmonds.
Pictures taken by Kirsty Edmonds.
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