Two devoted mums and friends who tragically lost their babies have donated a host of lovingly made outfits created from old wedding dresses to the special baby care unit at Rotherham Hospital.
Lisa Fletcher, from Killamarsh, sadly lost baby Lillie-Grace in October 2015 when she was stillborn three days before her due date. To help keep her much-loved daughter’s memory alive, Lisa has since dedicated her time to running a charity called Dresses for Angels.
Rotherham’s box of clothing from Dresses for Angels was donated in memory of baby Lily Jayne Reynolds, who died at Rotherham Hospital in March last year. Lily’s mum Rachel Reynolds and Lisa met through Sands, a national charity which helps parents affected by the death of a child.
Rachel, 33, from Bramley in Rotherham, said: “When Lily Jayne died we were fortunate enough to be given a knitted hat, a dress and a blanket. It meant the world to me and my husband Karl. Because Lily was so small, we wouldn’t have been able to find anything to fit her so, we were so grateful when our midwife Jayne found the tiny dress.
“This is why the donated dresses mean so much as it gives families a choice of something beautiful for their baby to wear. They are beautifully made and I hope they provide some comfort to other families.”
Volunteers working for Dresses for Angels create individual bundles of clothing for babies, hand-made from donated wedding dresses. Hessian bags are filled with tiny girly dresses, romper suits with waistcoats for boys, hats, blankets, nappy covers, a candle and a handwritten note. The clothes are created for babies of all sizes and are used to dress the tiny tots before they are laid to rest.
In the past 10 months, volunteers have created more than 320 packs for babies throughout the country who have sadly died with the latest box arriving at Rotherham Hospital last week.
Lisa, 42 said: “I work with a host of seamstresses, knitters and other volunteers to collect the wedding dresses women are kind enough to give us. I design and stitch the outfits, pack up the boxes and write the gift tags and messages of condolence. It’s emotional and tiring but it’s also rewarding to know I’m making my daughter proud by making a difference to other families who are sadly going through the pain of losing a baby. It’s also lovely knowing that others will be touched by her memory and she won’t be forgotten.
“We use as much of the dresses as possible, from the netting to the bodices and any buttons and beads. They’re all created with love and I try to keep to the wedding and christening theme because I think it’s more special. I hope they provide some comfort to parents in Rotherham when they really need it the most.”
Women have donated 210 dresses to the charity nationally in the past 12 months with more than 100 more pledges from others who would like to do the same once Lisa has recruited more volunteer seamstresses.
Requests for the custom-made packs have come from as far afield as Australia with brides from Spain and America also wanting to donate wedding dresses. The charity relies on donations of money and supplies from a Go Fund Me
page and an Amazon Wish List.
Little Lily Jayne Reynolds was partly named after Jayne Manderson, a midwife at The Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust, who helped care for the Reynold’s family during their stay in the Maternity Ward’s Purple Butterfly Room.
Jayne said: “Rachel naming Lily Jayne after me was such an honour and one of the proudest moments of my career because I was able to help them through one of hardest parts of their lives. The clothing bundles from Dresses for Angels are really beautiful and will provide such comfort to families like Lily Jayne’s. We find that parents want to dress their babies in something lovely before any photos are taken and they are laid to rest and those treasured memories are kept forever.
“We’re incredibly grateful to the charity for the hard work and love which has gone into their donation.”
For more information about Dresses for Angels, visit their Facebook page or call Lisa on 0741 5523665.
For more information about the work of The Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust, please visit: http://www.therotherhamft.nhs.uk/
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