Appeal to keep Bexhill ‘lifeline’ group running

Toni Gardner, Bexhill on Sea.''Toni pictured with her son Eddie. SUS-150630-114539001
Toni Gardner, Bexhill on Sea.''Toni pictured with her son Eddie. SUS-150630-114539001

The woman behind a support group which offers ‘a lifeline’ to women with fertility issues has launched a bid to raise enough funds to keep the group running for another year.

Toni Gardner, from Bexhill, started the Treelight Fertility Support Group in September 2015 after learning there were no similar groups in Sussex.

Toni struggled with the heartache of infertility for eight years and underwent several rounds of IVF before giving birth to her son Eddie.

She said: “We are the only fertility support group I know of that meets every week (most are monthly) and the only one in Sussex that supports all childless people, regardless of circumstances.

“We also support people dealing with secondary infertility and adoption.

“There are no other groups in Sussex like ours with therapy and techniques every week, guest speakers from different fields, relevant handouts and information, and free homemade ‘fertility boosting’ food and drinks.

“We are very much needed in the community!”

Members meet in Bexhill once a week for a two hour session, with the first hour devoted to members talking about their experiences and the second learning about new ways of coping.

Toni also provides online support via a private Facebook group, where everyone can keep in contact inbetween sessions.

The members of the group are at different stages in their journey - some are well into fertility treatment, while others are just setting out on the rocky road to motherhood.

Although many of the women who attend Treelight live in Hastings and Bexhill, one member makes the weekly hour-long journey from Ashford in Kent.

One group member told the Observer: “The group is an absolute lifeline.

“After struggling with infertility for seven years, I felt so isolated and alone.

“I really found it hard to cope, but attending this group was the best thing I’ve ever done.

“I’ve made so many good friends and got so much support, it’s made a real difference to me.”

Toni has set up a Go Fund Me page - - in a bid to raise funds.

She has also written to celebrities who have undergone IVF treatment to appeal for their help.

And Toni is considering other whacky fundraising ideas, including a Pants Treasure Hunt and husband Derek is offering to ‘shave everything’ for the cause.

Toni added: “We are open to any fundraising suggestions from the community.

“Tell us what you’d pay money to see and we’ll do it!”

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