A BRAVE young mum from Oswestry is setting out on 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 incredible heartache of giving birth to her two tiny sons after they had died in the womb.
Plucky Hazel is now preparing to set out on a 26-mile cycling marathon in Manchester later this month 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.
And Sharon Hughes, who runs the men’s and ladies’ salon where Hazel has worked for the past three years, has praised her for her “amazing courage”.
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 early 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.
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.
“I’ve only just been able to go back to work at Gozo but it’s the best thing I could have done to help me try to get back to something like a normal life again.
“Everyone there – 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 on Sunday June 28.”
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.
They have a choice of pedaling routes of either 13, 26, or 52 miles and the event lasts the entire day.
Hazel has opted to tackle the 26-mile course and will be taking on the challenge alongside her 24-year-old sister Jasmine Rogers who also lives in Oswestry.
Hazel said: “I know I’ve set myself a massive challenge as I have never done anything like this before.
“My sister and I are both quite keen cyclists but neither of us has done a distance like 26 miles.
“We’ve been doing some pretty intensive training and I recently went out and did 17 miles in one hour and 10 minutes, which I didn’t think was too bad.
“I already had quite a good racing bike but my mum has just been out and bought me a better one and I’m very grateful to her for doing that.
“I first set myself a target of raising £150 from the challenge but people have been so amazing that within just two hours of my story going up on the JustGiving website I’d got that amount pledged and there’s now about four times that sum promised.
“I just want to raise as much money as I can for this marvellous charity in the name of my two beautiful baby boys.”
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 is now taking on this challenge.
“I think the charity Hazel is raising money for does a fantastic job in supporting people who have suffered the agony of stillbirth and everyone wishes her the best of luck on the cycle ride.
“We’re hoping to do other things to support Sands at the salon over the next month or so, including a raffle on July 4 with prizes donated by some of the local shops.”
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.
To back Hazel’s Great Manchester Cycle challenge, go to https://www.justgiving.com/Hazel-Rogers1/