BEREAVED mothers and their close friends took on a five-hour military-style boot camp to raise charity funds.

The group from stillbirth and neonatal charity SANDS were put through their paces by Mike Buss, a marathon athlete who broke 14 world endurance records in 2010.

The Swindon arm of the charity is hoping to raise £15,000 to install a bereavement suite in the maternity ward of Great Western Hospital, to give mothers who have suffered a loss some respite from the clamour of newborn babies.

Laura Kirby-Deacon, 37, a nurse at GWH, embarked on the project after losing her daughter at 32 weeks pregnant.

“The purpose of all this is that we are trying to raise money for SANDS to be able to set up a bereavement suite at Great Western Hospital,” she said.

“Certain people who lose their babies late in pregnancy have to deliver them in the maternity unit, surrounded by people who had happy, healthy, living babies. We want to create a new environment adapted specifically to them.

“I got involved with SANDS in June 2012 after I lost my daughter, Iashia. I was wheeled round to delivery and back through Hazel ward, past all the other mums. We are then put in a position when we are surrounded by people coming in and out with their balloons and their gifts, and it is quite hard to take. “The idea of the bereavement suite is that it is a more secluded environment, and there will be no time limit on how long a bereaved mother can stay.”

Swindon SANDS has so far had a successful year of fundraising.

“It is all in progress at the moment, as GWH are trying to find two rooms for us,” Laura added. “We need to raise at least £15,000 to build, refurbish and decorate the rooms, but it might take a little bit more than that.

“We are more than halfway there. All the little events we are doing are slowly chipping away at our target. I think we are approaching £10,000.

“It has taken about two years to make this happen and we are just waiting on GWH to come back with the rooms. Hopefully over the next year it will come to fruition.”

Mike Buss, founder of the mikebussPT fitness centre on Maxwell Street, said: “We have been doing kettlebells throughout the morning and we are doing circuit training before a quick break. After that we are going straight into a one-hour military style boot camp, using Battle PT, which is the type of fitness training soldiers have to go through to prepare for the battlefield.”

For more information about Swindon Sands or to raise funds for the bereavement centre, visit or email