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Two women who have forged a life-long friendship after the death of their babies are being recognised by Tommy’s for an Act of Kindness award.

Zoe Feeney, 32 from Gillingham, Dorset has won the Tommy’s Act of Kindness award after being nominated by her friend Sophie Helyer, 29 from Ilchester, Somerset. Zoe and Sophie were neighbours on a military housing estate and were brought together by an instant bond over their mutual experiences of loss with their babies, Teddy and Pearl.

The Tommy’s Awards celebrate the incredible supporters, families, researchers, brands and healthcare professionals who have come #TogetherForChange. The Awards are for families everywhere who have been touched by pregnancy complications or the loss of a baby, and faced their circumstances with courage, bravery and solidarity. The Act of Kindness award recognises a person who has gone above and beyond to support a family who has gone through a pregnancy complication or loss.

Sophie says: ‘Zoë is my Wonder Woman. She supported myself and my family when we had a late term miscarriage and lost our son, Teddy. Throughout this, she was also dealing with her own miscarriage. Over the last few years, Zoe and her husband Bren have lost 8 babies. Miscarriage after miscarriage and yet they’ve never given up. They are now 37 weeks pregnant and Zoë has documented her losses, her battles and her current pregnancy on Instagram (motherof__pearl).

‘Her daughter, Pearl has been their biggest heartbreak – it’s all for her. Without Tommy’s they wouldn’t be where they are now, at 37 weeks pregnant – I have hoped and prayed that their current pregnancy, a boy, will be their ultimate sunshine – their Mr Blue Sky. She deserves to be recognised for her honest account, her honest conversation. She is a marvel. Loss is horrific, the strength and bonds from that last forever, though!’

Zoe says: ‘We were relatively new friends when Sophie fell pregnant with Teddy, but we had a connection straight away and so when her waters broke early, having lost 3 pregnancies already, I had a small idea of how scared she must be. I remember her coming for tea and sitting on my sofa telling me what had been happening while my Labrador, Jackson, lay his head on her bump. I felt an instant need to try and protect her and Teddy.’

Over the next few months after Teddy died Zoe kept in constant contact with Sophie, dropping round little gifts and card and being there whenever she needed someone.

Act of Kindness award winner Zoe Feeney from Gillingham, with her Labrador Jackson.

Zoe says: ‘I was honestly astounded by the strength Sophie showed after Teddy died. I still am in awe of her, really. I tried to manage the devastation of losing Pearl in the same way she had with Teddy. When Sophie told us she was pregnant again I was so happy. I expected to feel some jealousy or sadness, but all I felt was joy. During her pregnancy with Cadie, I fell pregnant with Pearl, but we kept it secret and didn’t tell anyone. We lost Pearl shortly after Cadie was born, and we still didn’t tell anyone straight away. I was really worried I would always look at Cadie and see what we should have, but Sophie’s pregnancy and bringing Cadie into the world actually gave me hope that there is happiness to be found after baby loss. We both went through something tragic, we are both mothers who have lost a child. That is a very special type of support and bond. My husband Bren and I are now Cadie’s godparents and she brings us so much happiness. As two families, we have come together through immense pain to form one big family, with Pearl and Teddy always with us.’

Zoe concludes: ‘To win a Tommy’s Act of Kindness award for showing kindness to Soph after Teddy died is strange in a way. Kindness can only be given if it is accepted and reciprocated by the receiver. And so, by letting me be part of her life, part of Teddy’s life and death, and part of Cadie’s life, and her other son Raif’s life, it is her who has shown me the greatest kindness.’

The Tommy’s Awards celebrates the courage, strength and amazing support given by family members, friends and health professionals as well as acknowledging those who have triumphed against adversity. The Awards categories are Super Sibling, Little Champion, Inspirational Dad, Inspirational Mum, Inspirational Family, Healthcare Hero, Star Researcher, Mum’s Voice, Act of Kindness, Partner’s Voice and Star Fundraiser.

The winners were announced at an awards ceremony on 11 July at the Oxo Tower, London presented by celebrity mum and author Giovanna Fletcher and attended by Emily Andre, Frankie Bridge, Clemmie Hooper and Izzy Judd.

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