In 73 days you can do a lot. In just under two and a half months, you could learn a new skill, finish that book you have been reading, or writing, or simply pack the suitcases and travel. In roughly ten weeks there is so much you could achieve and so many challenges you could conquer.
For Jason and Tracy Bould they set themselves a different kind of challenge, a challenge which involved taking 73 landscape photographs, in 73 days in 73 locations around the Peak District. However, this wasn’t a challenge to break a new record, but it was a challenge to help three charities which had proven to be invaluable in their plight in coping with a traumatic experience.
The couple’s daughter Emily, was born prematurely at 28 weeks and after a short, brave battle, Emily sadly passed away on February 16, 2017. It was the following three charities which were vital in helping Jason and Tracy through the most difficult time of their lives – Aching Arms, which is a baby loss charity providing bereaved parents with ongoing support, 4Louis, which equips hospitals with memory boxes so parents can capture memories at the hospital and the Forget Me Not Rooms at the Royal Stoke University Hospital, which provide special rooms where parents can stay after their baby has passed away.
The couple, of Stoke-on-Trent, researched and dedicated their time, and completed the challenge in October 2017. As well as raising money via a Virgin Giving Money page online, framed prints from the Peak District challenge were sold off at an event held at Zest Cafe Bistro, in Hanley where people could also make donations for smaller prints.
“We thought if we could raise £3,000 that would be £1,000 for each charity and we would have been happy with that,” said Jason. “But once things got going and all sorts of people got involved it just went crazy and we raised £15,000 – it was just ridiculous.”
As well as support from individuals and businesses throughout Stoke-on-Trent, Jason was delighted to receive support from Peak District photographer Chris Nowell and national landscape photographers Adam Karnacz and Thomas Heaton – who both have well subscribed YouTube channels.
“We’ve had so much support, everyone has been brilliant,” said Jason. “It was a bit overwhelming at the start. We had this idea and we had no idea it was going to grow into what it did. I spent two evenings emailing people and also going round telling people what we were doing, then people started to contact us. Chris (Nowell) came on some of the locations with us and Thomas (Heaton) did a video with us – it was amazing. I’d been following Thomas for a long time and watching his videos on photography. I knew he had a big following and I didn’t think I’d get a response back, but he emailed me back and said he wanted to get involved. I couldn’t believe it. Adam also came with us on location and it was just brilliant to have the help there.”
Jason and Tracy had another companion during their challenge which was thanks to the charity Aching Arms who supply hospitals with a teddy bear which is passed on to bereaved parents. I wouldn’t have been bothered about a teddy bear before,” Jason continued. “But you cannot comprehend leaving the hospital with nothing. The bear means something to you, it’s real. Our bear is Grace and we took her with us on the challenge, she was strapped to my backpack.”
Jason and Tracy admit if it wasn’t for all three of the charities which helped them then they may not have conquered their 73 in 73 challenge and cannot thank each one enough.
“We wouldn’t have been able to do it without these charities,” Jason says. It’s all been eye opening for us like another world opened up to us. Yes most of it was sadness and grief but on the flip side there were these amazing charities we got to know and we wanted to help them and do our best to help keep them going. £15,000 is a lot of money but it doesn’t come close to what you receive from these charities.”
Leanne Turner, charity co-ordinator at Aching Arms, said: “We were delighted when Jason and Tracy told us they would be doing the 73 in 73 challenge and that Aching Arms was one of their selected charities. We knew it was a very special challenge they were taking on but we had no idea just how much money they would raise and how much they would help raise awareness of baby loss as well as our charity. It means so much to us that Jason and Tracy chose to support Aching Arms after they received one of our comfort bears following the loss of their daughter Emily. The money they’re donating to Aching Arms will go a long to way to ensuring that we can continue to offer comfort bears to bereaved parents. Every one of our bears is a gift from a bereaved family, to let them know they’re not alone and signpost them to other charities where they can access the support and help they need.”
Bob McGurrell, trustee at 4Louis, said: “It’s such a very difficult thing to turn a mammoth negative to something so positive and help families in a similar situation. The 73 in 73 is a tough challenge and I’m sure Emily was with them every step of the way. The challenge has not only raised an incredible amount of money, but also created invaluable awareness for the three charities selected. Everyone at 4Louis are so grateful for not only thinking of us, but actually those early mornings and late nights putting the effort in.”