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Bury St Edmunds mother-of-two's efforts see Suffolk County Council scrap certificate fees for stillbirth and deaths of babies and children




Grieving parents who have lost children now have one less thing to worry about, after Suffolk County Council listened to one Bury St Edmunds mother’s plea for change.

Jessica Rudd, 26, decided to campaign for birth and death certificate fees to be abolished in cases of stillbirth and infant death after she and other grieving parents discussed the additional heartache the fees caused.

Jessica and her husband Sam are passionate about raising awareness of baby loss after their daughter Evee died during pregnancy in 2018.

Jessica Rudd with her 1 year old son, Hunter. Jessica is campaigning for costs for birth & death certificates for chidren to be abolished..Pic - Richard Marsham/www.rmg-photography.co.uk. (46143593)
Jessica Rudd with her 1 year old son, Hunter. Jessica is campaigning for costs for birth & death certificates for chidren to be abolished..Pic - Richard Marsham/www.rmg-photography.co.uk. (46143593)

The couple have found support from the West Suffolk Sands group, which was set up by bereaved parents to offer support to those who have experienced baby loss.

It was through discussions with the group that Jessica realised others felt being asked to pay for the certificates on top of their loss was an unexpected added trauma.

“I came home and thought I would try to do something,” said Jessica.

Last month she wrote to Suffolk County Council requesting it to consider scrapping the birth and death certificate fees which, until April, were £11 including second class postage, or an extra £7 for secure and signed-for postage.

“If you lose a baby born after 24 weeks it is classed as a stillbirth, you’d have them registered and you’d be expected to pay for the birth and death certificates. Often, people would buy a duplicate in case they lost the first. At £11 per certificate, you’d be looking at £44 per registration for a stillbirth,” said Jessica.

After writing to the council directly Jessica also got in touch with several local councillors, with one liaising with the council for the fee to be dropped.

As a result, from April 1 any certificates issued for still births or deaths of babies, children and young people under the age of 18 years are now free of charge.

“I wanted to raise awareness of this change, which I consider a huge win with Suffolk County Council,” said Jessica.

“This change will take away the cost of death certificates for any under 18 rather than just stillbirths. I wasn’t expecting that outcome but when I got the news that the proposal had all been accepted I felt really surprised and relieved, because it will make a huge difference to parents in Suffolk," added Jessica.

A Suffolk County Council spokesman said: “We recognise how difficult times like these will be for parents and guardians and are pleased to be able to make this change to help alleviate additional stress or concern.”

For more information about West Suffolk Sands, go to www.facebook.com/West-Suffolk-Sands-103385401075567 or email support.westsuffolk@sands.org.uk

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