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One of the best goalkeepers ever to grace football’s Premier League has stepped in to support a North Wales woman who lost her precious daughter to stillbirth by helping her take her heart-breaking story to a wider audience.
Philippa Davies, from the Mold area, has written a play, ‘Dancing in the Wings’, based on the loss of her daughter, Sam, who was born asleep and how Ty Gobaith Children’s Hospice’s counselling service helped her move forward from her loss.
The play is due to be performed at Mold’s Theatr Clwyd in February before moving onto Wrexham, Caernarfon and the Forum Theatre in Chester.
Now, North Wales-born Everton legend Neville Southall MBE is supporting Philippa having come up with the idea of a special fundraising night to help pay the touring costs of taking Dancing in the Wings on the road.
Philippa, who has also endured multiple miscarriages on top of her daughter Samantha being born asleep on January 23rd, 2012, wrote Dancing in the Wings in the hope of raising awareness of the issues faced by families who lose a child.
She said: “I called the play Dancing in the Wings because Sam was such a lively baby during pregnancy, like a little dancer . It’s important I tell Sam’s story and ensure people can be comfortable talking about babies and children who are no longer here, because it is such a lonely journey for bereaved Mums and Dads, and not something people are comfortable talking about.
“The play will be produced and performed by North Wales theatre company Suitcase Theatre. However, it’s really not cheap taking a play on the road and I was concerned how I’d raise the finance to cover touring costs.
“But Neville Southall heard of what I was doing and offered to help. In fact it was Neville that came up with the idea of a charity night which will be held on Thursday, January 23rd on what would have been Sam’s eighth birthday. I could not be more grateful to Big Nev for all he is doing to help.
“It’s going to be an amazing night at Oh Me Oh My; hosted by actor Si Kneale and featuring comedian Bill Woolland who will then host a Q&A session with Big Nev. And we will also have live music from Arustic Duo as well as a fantastic raffle of Mersey memorabilia as well as great food.”
Philippa, who is currently studying for a Phd in equine nutrition at the University of Aberdeen, added: “Dancing in the Wings is supported by Hope House (Ty Gobaith) who helped get me through my most difficult times.
“Also Sands UK, the stillbirth and neonatal death charity. The target is to raise £3,000 for the production’s touring costs and anything raised above that will be split between Hope House and Sands.
“Baby loss charity, Cradle, which is also supported by Neville Southall MBE and his Twitter takeovers, will be there on the evening too.
“I just hope we fill this amazing venue and we raise the money I need to take my play on the road. It’s so important people understand the journey I have been on which thousands of other parents have to live through too.
“I want to improve people’s understanding of the horrendous circumstances so many people have to face and hopefully enable them to get the support they are going to need.
“But I also want to raise awareness of the need for increased support and training for healthcare professionals who have to support patients. I’ve seen nurses and doctors in tears because of what I was going through.
“I want them to receive training and support to help them cope but also to enable them to provide the best care possible for other patients.
“I also want to support the charities that do incredible work such as Ty Gobaith and Hope House. They gave me the help I desperately needed when I most needed it.
“And SANDS who do amazing work and carry out fantastic research as well as implementing new management strategies and projects to support people who lose their babies.”
Neville Southall MBE who made a club record 578 appearances for Everton winning First Division Championship medals in 1984-85 and 1986-87 as well as a European Cup Winner’ Cup medal in 1985, and two FA Cup winners medals in 1984 and 1995, say he wanted to help as soon as he heard Philippa’s story.
He said: “I do have some family experience of miscarriages. That and still births must be devastating and unbearable for any couple.
“I think the idea behind the play Dancing in the Wings is inspired. We need to talk about these issues and not shy away from them. Let’s bring the subject out into the open however painful it might be so other people who suffer a miscarriage or have a baby born asleep don’t feel so isolated.”
Neville, who was born and raised in Llandudno and worked as a bin man, waiter and hod carrier before becoming a professional footballer winning 92 Welsh caps, added: “I’m looking forward to a great night at the Oh Me Oh My club. I’m happy to take part in a Q&A session with the comedian Bill Woolland.
“I’ll answer honestly any sensible question put to me about my playing career and the game today. I just want to raise as much as we can in support of Philippa so we can get this play out on the road. The more people that see it the better and the more the issues surrounding still birth and miscarriage will be understood.”
A Night for Sam, an audience with Neville Southall will be at Oh Me Oh My, West Africa House, 25 Water Street, Liverpool on Thursday, January 23rd 2020 with doors opening at 7pm.
Tickets, which are £30, can be booked by visiting www.skiddle.com
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