Elle (aged four) and Louis (aged one) from Chelmsford were first in line this year to meet VIP guest Santa as festivities began at the annual Wickford at Christmas Street Fayre. Santa led the opening procession down the High Street, waving at the crowds, before arriving at his grotto where he spent the afternoon greeting and meeting local families.
“We hadn’t told Elle that she was going to meet Santa, it was a complete surprise, so to see her face light up when she realised was just lovely,” says Elle’s mum Laura. “It was a really magical moment.”
Elle and Louis were both born after Laura and husband Matt had IVF treatment at Bourn Hall. The clinic provides both fertility testing and treatment for NHS and self-funded patients and it has sponsored Santa’s Grotto at the Wickford at Christmas Street Fayre since 2017.
The event is particularly special for the family, as after two miscarriages the couple thought they may never have a child of their own.
Laura comments that it had a deep impact on both of them, but often the male partner received less support: “Everyone focuses on the woman, so when we had the miscarriages, everyone was being very lovely and looking after me, but no one asked how Matt was,” she says. “He was devastated too; he had always wanted to be a dad. It was quite shocking that no one asked how he was.”
When Elle was born after a successful round of IVF, Matt was over the moon. He says he felt ‘relief and complete love.’ “It was breath-taking, the best feeling in the world,” he says. “It felt like those years of emotional turmoil, physical turmoil as well for Laura, had all been worth it.”
Last year the couple welcomed their son Louis after further treatment at Bourn Hall and Matt says that whilst their fertility struggles have been tough, “I wouldn’t change anything for the world because we have got two angels. Christmas this year is going to be so special.”
Bourn Hall Senior Embryologist Dipali Desai joined the family and Santa at the Wickford at Christmas Street Fayre. She says the event gave her a warm feeling.
“It was really nice to meet Laura and Matt and their two children today,” says Dipali. “Seeing them having such a lovely time and meeting Santa was so special and makes our work feel so worthwhile. Having a family is the best gift of all.”
Bourn Hall, which has a clinic in Wickford town centre, opened a new Miscarriage Clinic this year to help answer the questions that couples have after a loss and holds a regular Fertility Support Group open to everyone struggling with infertility.