In memory of Ava

Former Stanley resident James Jackson (centre) and partner Chantelle Murphy (right) experienced the tragic loss of daughter Ava before birth last year, and are now hoping to support others in the same situation through the Beards of Hope challenge along with friend Brandon Tonks (left) and Jackson brothers (from back left) Ashley, Lincoln and Jarrod. Picture: Bodey Dittloff.

Tribute. Former Stanley resident James Jackson and partner Chantelle Murphy will never forget their daughter Ava, who died tragically before birth in January last year.

So when the opportunity arose to help other families who have been through similar heartbreak, they were eager to get behind it in any way possible.

Chantelle was diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease four years ago – an inherited condition which currently has no cure, causing abnormal cysts to grow in the kidneys.

“I’d always had health issues, but had never been able to diagnose it,” she said of the disease, which will force her to have a kidney transplant within the next few years.

Despite the ongoing check-ups, the couple were buoyed by the news that Chantelle was pregnant with what was set to be the couple’s first child, however things took a turn for the worse late into her second trimester.

“I got to 22 weeks and was flown to Hobart, and they said I wouldn’t survive [the labour],” she said, with James recalling the doctor’s opinions of “you either lose both or lose the baby”.

“When we got down there, there was hope she’d still be okay,” James said. “It’s not an easy thing for the doctor [either].”

Having experienced the difficulty of coping with loss first-hand, James and Natone Football Club teammate Ryan Petterwood have decided to let their facial hair do the talking through ‘Beards of Hope’; a concept found online by James’ brother Lincoln.

An initiative stemming from not-for-profit organisation Bears of Hope, which supports those who have experienced infant loss, Beards of Hope encourages men to ditch the razors and raise funds over the ‘beard season’ (June 1 – August 31).

Joined by friends and family in growing their beards, James and Ryan’s efforts will culminate in a shave-off at Burnie Coffee House on September 5, with 50 cents from each coffee to be donated towards the cause on the day.

“It’s a lot more common than people think,” James said of infant loss. “At the end of the day, if there are people we can help out, because we know how hard it is . . .

“You have to go through it to know how it is. It affects your whole life, you think about it every day.”

Participants have already begun the growth period, with James comfortable in the growth of his facial hair over younger brothers Lincoln and Ashley and family friend Brandon Tonks.

“Brandon’s been growing his for longer than three months, [but] I haven’t got much competition, put it that way,” he joked. “It’s all for a good cause.”

To donate to the Jackson brothers’ Beards of Hope page, head online to beardsofhope2015.gofundraise.com.au/page/Lincolnjackson.

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