A BALL being thrown in memory of a stillborn baby boy is helping to shine a light on the amazing work done by two maternity wards at Southend Hospital.

Emma and Danny Cox, of Rectory Avenue, Ashingdon, organised the ball, being held at the Arlington Rooms, Leigh, on Saturday, after their son, Alfie, was born at 21 weeks.

It’s raising funds for the Special Care Baby Unit and the Butterfly Bereavement Suite at the hospital.

Emma, 39, said: “The Butterfly Bereavement Suite is a room on the labour ward. A room that most people, luckily, don't know exists. We didn't, until the July 3, 2016 when I went in to be induced.

“The room is like a hotel room and has everything you need to make the experience as comfortable as possible. There was a double bed for Dan to stay in, our own kitchen, a lounge area and an ensuite bathroom. It meant that I was able to give birth away from hearing other people’s crying babies.

“Everything in the room has been paid for with donations. When I gave birth to Alfie in the early hours of July 4, we were able to keep him in a cold cot next to us for as long as we needed, until we were ready to say goodbye.”

Emma and Danny have two other sons, Jamie, seven, and Eden, eight months. Both the boys were premature.

“The Special Care Baby Unit has been close to our hearts since 2010, when Jamie was born at 29 weeks and he was cared for by the unit,” explains Emma, who is head of maths at Westcliff’s St Thomas More.

“After we had started planning Alfie’s Ball, I then went into premature labour again, this time at 30 weeks, so Eden also spent the first month of his life on the unit too.

“The staff there are amazing. Not only did they look after our precious boys, they also looked after us too – getting us through those difficult and emotional days.”

A hospital spokeswoman revealed that funds raised by the ball will go towards specific items.

She said: “The SCBU team would like to purchase a vein finder. This is a piece of equipment that uses a strong LED light to help accurately locate the tiny veins in a neonate’s small limbs for improved insertion of an IV, without emitting heat.

“They would also like to buy some comfortable beds, bedding and towels for parents to stay overnight with babies on the unit. At present they only have a pull-out sofa and an old wooden bed.

“The Butterfly Suite needs a TV and proper aerial, a new fridge with freezer so we can have ice pops to keep mum cool in labour and hydrated. They would also like to purchase pain control devices for mum in labour to help with her comfort and some Heart in their Hand gifts dedicated personally to Alfie.”

More than 120 people will be attending the ball.

And X Factor's Talia Dean is topping the bill on the night.

The mum-of-one said she was incredibly touched by Emma’s efforts to raise funds and awareness in memory of Alfie.

Talia said: “I do a lot for children’s charities but I never really thought about the flip side before. There’s a lot of mums that never get to have that final moment, and I knew how that felt, in a way.

“Just before the X Factor I’d had a miscarriage, I was almost three months gone, and I know it’s not like Emma and actually carrying a baby up to 21 weeks, but when she contacted me, I just felt it was something I had to do.

“It’s such a taboo subject still, and the fact that Emma is so open, I mean I’ve seen a picture of Alfie, and I just thought if this woman can be so strong, then I need to support her.”

Also performing on the night will be Leigh band BaVard, dancers from Southend’s Nash Dance Academy, singer Katy Forkings and DJ Davros.