By Francesca Casonato
An EastEnders script writer who used her own experiences to write the storyline about Ruby Allen’s miscarriages is doing a sponsored walk this month to raise money for charity.
Natalie Mitchell, 38, originally from Brenley House, Tennis Street, Borough and now living in Bexley, signed up for the Miscarriage Association’s Miles That Matter 21 with husband Sam Wainwright, a construction engineer.
They are walking 21 miles along the Thames Path, starting at London Bridge and ending at Erith Pier to raise awareness and fundings for the association’s work.
The Miscarriage Association, the event organisers, say about a quarter of pregnancies end in miscarriage, with 21,000 pregnancies expected to be lost in July alone – hence the distance chosen.
They have decided to do the walk after Natalie’s second missed miscarriage in six months, following three and a half years of fertility treatment. She had been diagnosed aged 12 with endometriosis, where womb-like tissue grows in the wrong places in a woman’s body.
She said: “After hundreds of medical procedures including six excision surgeries, we always knew it would be difficult for us to get pregnant. What we didn’t realise is that it would also be difficult to stay pregnant.
“Nothing prepares you for hearing that your longed-for baby no longer has a heartbeat. Or how to deal with the grief and pain of a loss which is often minimised.
“I’ve always been very open about my experience of living with endometriosis and infertility and spoke about it with the team as the story was developing.
“I was diagnosed with endometriosis 26 years ago, and there is still a lack of understanding about the condition. To be able to bring that lived experience to the screen is really important.
“Accessing support has been difficult, and I found The Miscarriage Association a vital resource for helping with what we’re going through.
“We’re walking to raise awareness and hopefully open up discussion, so other couples going through what we are feel more confident sharing their experiences and accessing support. It is in silence that shame exists, and no one should feel ashamed about pregnancy loss or infertility.”
As a screenwriter, Natalie decided to do her part bringing this message also to TV, describing some of these experiences into the character of Ruby Allen.
Ruby’s character, who has been part of the EastEnders’ cast since 2005, has lived through two miscarriages, until she was diagnosed with endometriosis.
“People don’t like to talk about infertility, miscarriage or ‘women’s problems’,” said Natalie.
“We’ve all been taught not to announce pregnancies until after the first trimester, ‘in case something happens’. But this is exactly why we should – there’s no shame in baby loss, and it’s at this time more than any other you need support.
“A character talking openly about endometriosis and miscarriage on screen will hopefully give other people the confidence to talk about what they’re going through, without feeling embarrassed or silenced.”
Natalie’s grandad, John Antoniades, was originally from Camberwell and he used to run a barber shop on the Walworth Road in the 50s and 60s.
Her dad, Ken Mitchell, grew up on the Brandon Estate, and would pull out stalls on East Street Market for pocket money.
Natalie and Sam have lived in South London most of their lives together, starting out in 2006 in Brenley House at the Borough, where Sam’s nan, Eileen White, still lives.
They then moved into their first flat in Brook Drive, Lambeth, while today they live in Bexley.
Natalie now works full time as a scriptwriter across TV, theatre and radio, but she is best known as a core writer for EastEnders.
The couple have a fundraising page, which has already raised £2,100 at Virgin Money Giving | Miles That Matter 21- Thames Path Walk.
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