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Volunteers spruce up maternity bereavement garden at RLI

21 May 2019

Lora Donald, a Clinical Support Worker on A&E and maternity wards at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary (RLI) who also is the Team Manager at Co-op, Westgate, organised a group of volunteers to spruce up a maternity bereavement garden at the RLI.

Armed with their spades, clippers and trowels the group pruned bushes, weeded borders, varnished seats and decking areas and planted flower tubs and baskets.

The bereavement garden offers a great source of comfort to families and allows them quiet time to think and reflect and spend time with their precious little one before they are faced with the heart-breaking task of saying goodbye.

Lora said: “The Trust has done so much over the years to improve facilities for families who have suffered the loss of their baby and it is important that they have somewhere to come and sit with their little one and reflect.  We were more than happy to volunteer our time to help spruce up the area.”

Celia Sykes, Midwife for University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust, added: “We can’t thank the volunteers enough for coming in and volunteering their time and the plants they have donated and Lora for organising it. It is important that we have a tranquil place for parents to come and spend time with family and their baby.”

Lora’s colleagues, Dave Blakey, Store Manager at the Co-op, his wife Jackie Blakey, and colleagues Anita Lynch, Rachel Charnock and Barry Francom, along with Sue Constable, from Co-op Funeral Care, volunteered more than four hours on Thursday 2 May.  The team hope to come back regularly to check on the garden and plan to plant seasonal flowers and shrubs such as Forget-Me-Nots, lily of the valley, and alpines.

The bereavement garden was introduced in 2016 by Ian and Rachael Gowing who tragically lost their newborn baby girl Berry. They were determined to do something to remember her by and also do their bit to help other families who would suffer a similar devastating loss.

The couple, their family and friends, transformed the garden with slate obelisks kindly donated by Burlington Stone and handcrafted stone planters.

A door links the bereavement suite room to the garden allowing families to go and sit in the garden or just have the door open and listen to the garden sounds.