A HEARTBROKEN couple who lost their stillborn son in November have raised over £1,000 for charity by foregoing Christmas presents.

Russell and Lisa Ventura, from Lowerwick, Worcester, told loved ones they would be donating to the Cleft Lip and Palate Association (CLAPA) in place of gifts after they lost their son on Friday, November 29 last year.

Their son, Francesco "Frankie" Enrico Ventura, was found to have a cleft lip and palate during a scan at Worcestershire Royal Hospital in September and the couple received help and advice from the charity.

Family and friends also gave donations in place of presents and others gave generously through a Just Giving page and at Frankie's funeral through AV Band raising a total of £1057.62.

Mr and Mrs Ventura said: “We set ourselves a target of raising £1000 for CLAPA and we are over the moon to have achieved this, particularly over Christmas.

"CLAPA have given us a huge amount of support and even funded a 4D scan of Frankie so we could see the extent of his cleft lip and palate, and we’re looking forward to getting more involved with them as a charity in the future.

“While this cannot bring our son back, we hope that we can help other parents who have had a diagnosis of cleft lip and palate in their unborn children, for example, by funding some additional 4D scans so they can see the extent of their child’s cleft lip and palate before they are born as we did with Frankie.”

The couple thanked everyone who donated including BT Local Business/Elysium Communications Ltd, Scyron Ltd, South Worcestershire Primary Care Trust, The Crown at Martley as well as Rev David Southall and Rachel Carter at Worcestershire Royal Hospital.

Donations have come from as far afield as the United States of America and the couple have also gained readers from around the world for their blog Frankie's Legacy (www.frankieslegacy.co.uk) which documents their journey.

They will also be launching a charity under the same name later this year.

Rosanna Preston, CLAPA chief executive, said: “We are tremendously grateful to Lisa and her husband for thinking of CLAPA at this difficult time and for generously asking people to make donations to us.

"CLAPA provides valuable emotional and practical support from the moment of diagnosis right through the 20 year treatment pathway to adulthood and we rely entirely on donations to provide our services”

The Cleft Lip And Palate Association charity is looking to expand its services across Worcester, Worcestershire and the West Midlands including establishing a local branch of the charity and are looking for volunteers.

Anyone interested should contact Becky Gowers, central England regional coordinator in the first instance at CLAPA, by emailing becky.gowers@clapa.com.