The memory of loved ones who have sadly died will live on thanks to a new memorial garden currently being built at Rotherham Hospital.
After months of planning and a generous £11,557 donation from national charity 4 Louis, work has finally started to transform a disused patch of land in the grounds of Rotherham Hospital into a beautiful, peaceful and calming space for prayer and reflection.
The project has been spearheaded by midwives Shahida Mehrban and Hayley Lea who aspired to provide a tranquil space for parents who have sadly lost a baby. However, the garden will be open for all colleagues, patients, families and members of the community who need it.
Shahida Mehrban, a Bereavement Specialist Midwife at The Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We’ve always felt that a memorial garden for people to pay their respects to their loved ones would be a wonderful addition to Rotherham Hospital and after months of planning it’s wonderful to finally see the work begin.
“We’re proud that we’ve been able to make this happen and are incredibly grateful to 4 Louis for providing the funds to help turn our plans into a reality.”
Hayley Lea, a midwife on Wharncliffe Ward at Rotherham Hospital, also said: “We hope the memorial garden will be a focal point for the hospital and will show patients and colleagues that we care about them. It will provide a more holistic approach to the care we provide. It will also be a public space we can be proud of and which we can host public memorial events.
“We can’t wait to see the finished result although it will be bittersweet for us. We hope it brings some comfort to those who have lost a loved one, young or old.”
Rotherham Hospital’s memorial garden is one of just two in Yorkshire funded by 4 Louis, which works nationally to support anyone affected by miscarriage, the death of a baby or child. The charity has previously supported families in Rotherham by providing memory boxes.
Bob McGurrell, Chief Executive of 4 Louis, said: “Rotherham Hospital has become a place close to our hearts after Harry, the grandson of our Trustee Sharon Abbott, was sadly stillborn there on 15 May 2013.
“4 Louis has supported bereaved families and the NHS across the UK for the last 10 years so we are delighted to continue our work by funding Rotherham Hospital’s memorial garden.
“It will be a vital facility for families to reflect, remember and spend special time together in a tranquil setting. We are sure that the families will love the space and will be able to create more memories, both now and in the future.”
Sharon Abbott, a Trustee for 4 Louis, added: “This memorial garden will be a much needed place for families to come and remember their loved ones. After losing Harry we needed somewhere to go other than the cemetery to celebrate the birth of Harry and talk about him with his siblings.
“We can now come here and look at the flowers and smile. I am sure that many families will use the garden to find some peace at a time when their world has changed forever. Harry was born here seven years ago and it's lovely to think that he has had a small part to play in the making of this memorial garden. Thank you to the hospital and 4 Louis for making it happen.”
The charities are working with Chesterfield-based landscape gardeners Killingley on the project, which is due to be completed in December.
The concept design for the garden was created by Sam Cartwright, Senior Site Manager at Killingley, who was inspired by the Rotherham Hospital and Community Charity’s children’s appeal mascot Dr Ted – the outline shape of the garden will look like a teddy bear’s head.
The garden will include a hornbeam hedge around the exterior to provide privacy, a weeping cherry blossom memorial tree in the centre, benches, flowering shrubs, flowers and plants.
The charities will be working together to provide meaningful ways for families to honour their loved ones and to make their mark on the garden.
In future, the Trust will use the garden to mark national events such as Baby Loss Awareness Week in October and Remembrance Sunday in November.
Martin Havenhand, Chairman of the Trust, added: “I know how hard our midwives have worked to bring their ideas for a memorial garden to fruition, from creating mood boards, developing concept designs with Killingley and working with 4 Louis and the hospital charity to successfully secure funding. It’s wonderful to see the project starting to take shape.
“It’s particularly poignant for the Trust right now with so many people nationally sadly losing their loved ones to Covid-19. We hope that it brings comfort to all families who have suffered a loss and when they really need it the most.”