Football team offers vital support for bereaved dads
PUBLISHED: 07:00 06 September 2020
Members of a football team for bereaved men in North Somerset have been continuing to support each other during the pandemic.
Sands United Bristol was set up a year ago by Peter Byrom, from Weston, to help dads who have lost a baby before, during or after birth.
Peter and his wife Denise Ridler-Byrom suffered the heartbreaking loss of their baby in 2004.
The couple found out their baby had died during a scan.
Peter said: “The midwife struggled to find a heartbeat. A doctor looked at it and confirmed there wasn’t one and the baby was dead.
“Darkness descends on you as you try and take in what’s going on.
“She came back on January 5 to be induced and give birth to our son, Thomas.”
The couple were told the chances of conceiving again were very slim, but Denise fell pregnant a few months later and she gave birth to Harrison in 2005.
The stigmatism around mental health meant Peter, now 44, put off attending support meetings until Harrison was a teenager.
He said: “I waited 14 years before I went to a support group meeting.
“I was too afraid I’d turn up and be the only bloke, sitting there crying my eyes out.
“As a bloke you’re meant to be stoic, not dependent on others.
“I first went in June 2018 and have been to every meeting since. I didn’t realise how much I needed it. I should have gone sooner.
“The support I get from talking to other parents is amazing.
“From that I formed a football team of other dads and have met an amazing group of blokes.”
The team now has around 35 members from across North Somerset and Bristol who keep in touch over WhatsApp and support each other through difficult times.
Peter said: “People can open up about anniversaries of their loss and if they’re having a tough day.
“The others in the team can remind them that they’re here for you. The most important message I can give is for people to be gentle towards themselves.”
Sands Reunited Bristol is celebrating its one-year anniversary next month and is keen to raise awareness of the team to so more men can access the support.
To find out more about the team, log on to www.sands.org.uk
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