An Elland mum-of-two is starting a support group for couples going through the emotional roller-coaster of fertility treatment.

Sarah Banks, 35, whose toddler son Jack was born following treatment at Calderdale Royal Infirmary’s Assisted Conception Unit, believes there is a need for a self-help organisation because the quest for a baby can be so traumatic and isolating.

She explained: “Couples don’t talk about what they are going through. In our case, all our friends were getting pregnant at the same time as we were trying and it wasn’t happening for us. I think 14 babies were conceived in that time. We were desperate for a family... and we had no control.

“I have since met other families who have been through the same thing and we all said if we had known each other when we were going through it we could have shared our experiences so we didn’t feel we were so isolated.”

Sarah is launching the Yorkshire Fertility Support Group on Wednesday, November 2, at the Elsie Whiteley Centre, Hopwood Lane, Halifax, and the first meeting will be at the centre on Monday, November 21, at 7pm. Guest speaker at the launch will be ‘babymaker’ Martin DeBono, consultant gynaecologist and obstetrician at Yorkshire Fertility, an expansion of the assisted conception unit, which now covers Dewsbury, Wakefield and Bradford as well as Huddersfield and Calderdale.

Sarah, a former buyer for Marks & Spencer, and her husband Andrew, Chief Operating Officer at Matalan Direct, had tried to conceive for four years before beginning fertility treatment. They discovered that Sarah had polycystic ovaries, a previously undiagnosed condition that affects fertility, and they underwent a procedure called ICSI (intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection), in which a sperm is injected directly into an egg before implantation.

Sarah and Andrew Banks with their childen Jack and Millie. Jack was conceived after fertility treatment and now Sarah is setting up a support group for couples undergoing treatment

The couple’s first round of treatment failed but a second was successful. They were in a car wash at the time they got the phone call from the hospital with the good news.

“Andy was saying ‘what’s going on?’ It was an unbelievable moment we will never forget,” said Sarah. And then 14 months after giving birth to Jack, who is now three-years-old, the couple celebrated the arrival of a daughter Millie, conceived naturally. They couldn’t be happier.

As Sarah says: “For us it is over, but I know there are many women out there going through it where everyone around them seems to be getting pregnant easily and they are feeling very isolated. There is pressure on the relationship, yet a friendly chat with someone going through the same could make all the difference.”

Mr De Bono agrees: “At Yorkshire Fertility we appreciate the anxieties that couples go through as they embark on fertility treatment. Sarah’s support group is a very welcome addition to this and it is so fantastic to have someone like her who is able to offer such support to our couples.”

Yorkshire Fertility has a conception rate of 38%, one of the best in the country. Earlier this year the unit at Calderdale celebrated its 20th anniversary and the birth of 1,500 babies as a result of treatment there.

To find out more search for Yorkshire Fertility Support Group on Facebook or contact Sarah on