A BRAVE young mum completed a tough cycling challenge to raise money in memory of the identical twin baby boys she lost in an agonising stillbirth tragedy.
Hazel Rogers, 22, who works as a stylist at the Gozo salon in Wrexham’s Eagles Meadow shopping centre, went through the heartache of giving birth to her two tiny sons after they had died in the womb.
Hazel and her fiancé Richard Jones, who serves with the army’s 2 Rifles battalion, were overjoyed to learn early last year that she was expecting twins.
But in December their world came crashing down when, at 37 weeks into what had been a perfectly normal pregnancy, they were given the heart-rending news that their two babies would be stillborn.
Determined Hazel, from Oswestry, took on the cycling marathon to raise cash for the stillbirth and neonatal death charity Sands which supports families going through a similar trauma to the one she has suffered.
So far she has raised over £1800 through her Just Giving page and through collections at Gozo, and The Grove pub in Shrewsbury run by Richard’s dad Russel.
She tackled the 26-mile course at the Great Manchester Cycle alongside her 24-year-old sister Jasmine Rogers. They came in at 29th and 30th respectively in the female under 35 category with a time of 1:41.
Hazel said: “I’m so happy that I can give something back. Sands is a cause that’s very close to my heart because my boys passed away.
“I have more money to count as well. My target was only £150. I beat that target in less than two hours after launching my Just Giving page.
“A lot of people who go through what I did haven’t got the support networks that I have of family and friends.”
She added: “The atmosphere in Manchester was absolutely amazing. Everyone was just so happy. They closed the roads so it was full of cyclists. The traffic lights would be red and you’d just cycle right through them.
“It was a tough challenge but we pushed ourselves as hard as we could to get the best time possible. I’m really happy with my time. I was aiming to do it in under two hours.
“I was expecting to be sore after doing it for a few days afterwards but I’m actually ok. I don’t feel like I’ve done 26 miles at all.”
Sands supports anyone affected by the death of a baby, works in partnership with health professionals to try to ensure that bereaved parents and families receive the best possible care and funds research that could help to reduce the numbers of babies dying and families devastated by this tragedy.
Hazel said: “Everything was fine throughout the whole pregnancy and there were no problems.
“It was on December 11 and I was going to give birth to my boys, and that morning they told me the tragic and most devastating news that they had passed away just a few hours before I went to hospital.
“Four days later I gave birth to my boys. Logan John Jones came first, born at 2pm weighing 5lb 13oz and Ryan Brian Jones was born at 2.38pm at 5lb 11oz.
“They both looked just perfect and were identical twins.
“Myself and Richard decided that we were going to have a post mortem because we needed to know why this had happened to our perfect little boys.
“Twelve weeks later we had the results back and they said the cause of my babies’ deaths was unknown.
“There was just no reason at all why they had passed away and I was told that it was nothing I did wrong.
“The hospital took 40 blood samples from me to see if they could find anything and there was nothing.
“It just happens and only God knows why – that’s what I was told.
“I stayed with Logan and Ryan for two days after giving birth to them and when we were leaving the hospital gave us a special memory box with their hand and foot prints and two little teddy bears.
“They also did a photo frame and clay hand prints for me – two little angels in pretty boxes.”
Hazel, who is stepmum to Richard’s two children, William, nine, and five-year-old Faye, added: “The memory of what happened to us is still very real and painful. I wake up and think about it every day.
“The worst thing that could ever happen to anyone is having to say goodbye to their babies.
“Everyone at Gozo – the owner Sharon Hughes and the rest of the team – and all our customers have been so good and supportive.
“The Sands charity does so much to help parents like us who find ourselves in this terrible situation that I decided to do what I can to support them by taking part in the Great Manchester Cycle.
The high-profile charity event takes thousands of riders on a route through Manchester city centre and past United’s famous Old Trafford stadium, with the start and finishing line at the Eitihad Campus, home of Manchester City FC.
Sharon Hughes, owner of the Gozo salon at Eagles Meadow where Hazel works, said: “I think she has shown amazing courage throughout this dreadful time and myself and everyone at Gozo – both staff and customers – are so proud of the way she has come back to work and took on this challenge.”
It was a sentiment echoed by Eagles Meadow manager Kevin Critchley who said: “I would like to congratulate Hazel and Jasmine for taking on this challenge.
“Hazel has shown immense courage and strength of character and has raised a fantastic amount for the Sands charity which provides a vital service.”
To back Hazel’s Great Manchester Cycle challenge, go to https://www.justgiving.com/Hazel-Rogers1/