Monday, June 18, 2007

Mum has young at heart

BONNIE Babes is a household name in Victoria and much of Australia.

Rachel Stanfield-Porter is the largely unknown but remarkable Melbourne mum who founded the Bonnie Babes Foundation after her own tragic double loss, but prefers to remain in the background.

It is typical of her humility that she is so surprised to be nominated for a Pride of Australia award, despite her enormous contribution spanning 13 years.

Now a mother of two healthy sons aged 12 and 14, Ms Stanfield-Porter founded the foundation in 1994 after the sad loss of her first two babies, one through miscarriage and the other stillbirth.

Through Ms Stanfield-Porter's exhaustive efforts, the charity now provides a 24-hour, seven-day counselling service for families who have lost a baby from miscarriage, stillbirth or prematurity.

It raises money to buy equipment for hospitals to help premature babies, and medical research to save lives.

Bonnie Babes is now a nationwide non-profit volunteer-based charity, and counts Glenn Archer, Rebecca Gibney, Frank Holden, Brian Naylor, Patti Newton, Naomi Robson, Dr Cindy Pan, Brigitte Duclos, Diane Dunleavy, Jacqueline Pascarl and the Wiggles among its many patrons.

Ms Stanfield-Porter was nominated for a Pride of Australia award by Bonnie Babes volunteer Caroline Pirie.

"She is truly an unsung hero," Ms Pirie said.

"Australians may not know her name but so many receive the benefits of her work.

"She is a person who quietly achieves so the many families she strives to help . . . know someone is there for them."

But Ms Stanfield-Porter counts herself as the lucky one.

"Through my work, I feel that I'm the one privileged being able to help people in this area, and work towards decreasing the statistic of one in four pregnancies currently ending in a loss," Ms Stanfield-Porter said.

"What we want for the future is more happy, healthy babies."

The loss of her own babies still weighs heavily many years later, fuelling her desire to help families experiencing the same tragedy today.


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