Baby loss garden of remembrance to open on Sunday in Northampton
A peaceful garden will be officially opened on Sunday at a Northampton cemetery for parents, who are finding their way through grief, to remember their baby.
The circular shaped garden is based at the top of Towcester Road Cemetery and will be opened by the Mayor of Northampton at a ceremony on Sunday afternoon after £43,000 has been raised through fundraising efforts by Northamptonshire SANDS.
Parents who have lost their baby are invited to attend the ceremony where the chaplain from Northampton General Hospital will be reading a dedication, and pebbles will be on hand for those who wish to remember their baby by decorating a special remembrance stone with their name and date of birth on.
Northamptonshire SANDS provide help and support for bereaved parents and families who have suffered the loss of a baby before, during or shortly after birth.
The garden project was a five-year joint effort led by chair of Northamptonshire SANDS Maggie Berrow and treasurer Viv Jameson who wanted to give local parents a peaceful place especially for remembering their babies.
The two friends have been running a baby loss support group for 20 years - starting in Maggie's living room - after Maggie met Viv through her role as a midwife.
Between them they have fundraised for a bereavement room and a garden at Northampton General Hospital and a 'cuddle-cot' used by parents to take their stillborn babies home.
Maggie said: "SANDS have got a memorial garden at the National Arboretum, in Staffordshire, and it's quite a long way for people to go. There is many people who have cremation but don't necessarily have a headstone. They have not got anything else.
"People might have moved in from another area and have left their baby behind and have got anywhere to go.
"We hoped this would be a place of quiet and peace where they could come."
Amy Manfield has now become a 'befriender' at SANDS meetings, following the loss of her baby Arielle. She reaches out to new parents at meetings to make them feel more at ease.
She said: "We have not got a plot for our daughter, Arielle, so exactly as this garden is meant for it will be a place to come and have a quiet moment to think about your child.
"This would be the perfect location, it's lovely, quiet and beautiful."
Support is provided free of charge to parents by SANDS and is a service open to all bereaved parents, their families and friends, no matter how long ago the loss occurred.
"Older people never got a chance to join somewhere like SANDS, or meet other people. It was never spoken about," Maggie added.
"We've found graves in Kingsthorpe cemetery for people who lost babies 40 or 50 years ago because in those days babies were whisked away and you had no photographs of your baby and you had no memories given to you.
"We have a woman living up in the north in Newcastle and she's 86. We've managed to find her daughters grave and she came down on one of her memorial services, and found her grave. She said 'I can die in peace now I know where my daughter is'."
For more information about Northamptonshire SANDS, see here.