A Coventry mum is hoping to top previous fundraising at the second Gala Dinner she has organised in memory of her late son.
Sharon Luca-Chatha established The Luca Foundation after her son, Luca, was stillborn at almost full term in June 2012.
Since then the charity has raised thousands to fund the purchase and repair of refrigerated CuddleCots for maternity units, neonatal intensive care units and paediatric wards. Sharon is driven by her vision to fund enough cuddle cots to service every maternity unit throughout the UK and then turn her attentions to cuddle blankets, for under 18s.
Through the charity she also works hard to raise funds to provide resources, facilities and research to reduce infant mortality and support bereaved parents.
Special guests at this charity year’s Gala Dinner, on September 30th, include award-winning actress and producer Kayleigh-Paige Rees.
Rees was best known for her role as Julia Beaufort in the ITV adaption of Jane Austen’s Sanditon, as well as starring in her own sitcom All About Casey on Amazon Prime. She also created Raspberry Films production company and founded Cotswold International Film Festival and uses her platforms to shed light on mental health issues. Just last week she won a National Film Award for her work Keep Calm and Carry On.
She said: “I’m so proud to be working with and supporting The Luca Foundation. What Sharon has been able to achieve since starting the charity and is so driven to continue pursuing, is so vital for all of us and how grief does and will impact our lives in the future.
“Sharon is creating an open and impactful dialogue about what we all experience and helping us along the way. I’m lucky to call Sharon a friend, and I am inspired by the work of The Luca Foundation.”
Also attending and showing her support for the Foundation will be Jess Impiazzi, partner of former Liverpool FC player Jermaine Pennent. It’s a cause close to Jess’ heart after losing her nephew when he was just a toddler.
The CuddleCots act like a refrigerator to keep the body cold which allows the parents to have up to a week with their baby and, if they wish to, even take them home with that equipment. Each cot costs £1,750 to purchase and between £100-£750 to repair.
Sharon, 47, said: “A parent’s worst nightmare is to lose their child. We were beyond devastated, our world had fallen apart. From the moment Luca died on the Monday inside my womb, 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.
“As I look back I realise that was the defining moment when I decided I wanted every parent to have access to a CuddleCot.”
Sharon, who has since been diagnosed with PTSD, has also gone on to write two books on the subject of child loss, Angel Warriors and an illustrated children’s book Why Did Grandad Die? which is available in schools across Coventry and Warwickshire.
She added: “The growth of the Luca Foundation has completely exceeded my expectations. As soon as we registered the charity, Covid hit us and stopped so much from happening but we’ve still achieved so much. I’m very proud of that and proud of the fact that, despite getting more than 10 repair requests every month, we’ve been able to fulfil all of them so far.”
Sharon hopes to top the £6,000 raised at the inaugural dinner. Tickets for this year’s Gala, at Birmingham’s Park Regis Hotel, are £65 and include a welcome glass of fizz, three-course meal and dancing to a DJ.
A raffle and auction on the night will help further boost funds, one of the top prizes including a private dinner for four people cooked in your own home by 2021 Masterchef winner Dan Lee, from Birmingham.
For further information about the Foundation or to purchase tickets to the Gala Dinner, visit here
Headline sponsor for the event is DRD Capital in Birmingham. Any businesses that would like to donate a raffle or auction prize or get involved as a sponsor, can contact Sharon at: firstname.lastname@example.org