Maternity bereavement garden at hospital in Lancaster receives a makeover

Back row, left to right: Andy Gowing, Craig Wearmouth, Phil Sinclair, Ian Gowing, Logan Gowing and Rachael Gowing, Eleanor Aked, Carol Gowing, Colin Alderson; Zoe Barnett, Emma Mckie.
Front row: Francesca Fontana, Andrea Morris, Celia Sykes; Pyrah Joanne, Jane Stevenson.
Back row, left to right: Andy Gowing, Craig Wearmouth, Phil Sinclair, Ian Gowing, Logan Gowing and Rachael Gowing, Eleanor Aked, Carol Gowing, Colin Alderson; Zoe Barnett, Emma Mckie. Front row: Francesca Fontana, Andrea Morris, Celia Sykes; Pyrah Joanne, Jane Stevenson.
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A couple who lost their new born baby girl wanted to do something to remember her by and also do their bit to help other families who would suffer a similar devastating loss.

Ian and Rachael Gowing, along with their two year old son Logan and a host of family and friends, arrived at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary (RLI), where their baby girl Berry was born, bringing with them slate obelisks kindly donated by Burlington Stone and hand crafted stone planters.

They set about digging, planting and pruning - helping to transform a tired garden within the grounds of the maternity ward at the RLI.

The newly refurbished bereavement garden will offer a great source of comfort to families and will allow 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.

A new door from the bereavement suite room into the garden now allows families to go and sit in the garden or just have the door open and listen to the garden sounds.

Ian said: “We are just happy to be able to do something so positive for others who face the same sad situation as we did, and are thankful to Morecambe Bay Hospitals Charity for giving us this great opportunity to make a difference. We know first-hand how important it is to have a place to sit, reflect at a time like this.

The RLI bereavement garden after the makeover.

The RLI bereavement garden after the makeover.

“I’d especially like to thank Burlington Stone who kindly donated a slate obelisk, a water feature for the garden and a plaque in memory of Berry which is now fixed to the wall.”

Joining Ian, Rachael and Logan were Ian’s parents Carol and Andy Gowing; Craig Wearmouth; Zoe Barnett; Phil Sinclair; Eleanor Aked and Colin Alderson.

Royal Voluntary Service (RVS) volunteer Barbara Armstrong, was also on hand to help with refreshments and Ian’s mum Carol even made cupcakes and cookies for everyone.

Paula Richardson, head of Charity and Fundraising, said: “Last year, Morecambe Bay Hospitals Charity was delighted to accept a very generous award of £2,000 from The Screwfix Foundation to use towards the makeover of the garden, this has paid for some of the garden furniture, although Ian, Rachael and family have also donated some of the benches too, we are extremely grateful to all involved.

The RLI bereavement garden after the makeover.

The RLI bereavement garden after the makeover.

“To lose a baby is devastating and is the last thing any family are expecting. It is extremely important that families who are in this awful situation feel as comfortable and supported as possible.

“Rachael and Ian have created a wonderful tranquil space, away from the clinical environment, for families to take some private time to be together. At the same time, they have left a lovely slate plaque by the water feature, which is a fabulous legacy they have left in Berry’s memory.”

Sascha Wells, Director of Midwifery, UHMBT, said: “This is a fantastic opportunity to create a wonderful space in Lancaster for the parents, families and friends who have been touched by the loss of their baby.

“We hope this new garden will offer great comfort to families at what is a truly tragic event in their lives, and provide a welcome break outside for them away from the busy atmosphere of the maternity unit.

“I would like to offer my sincere thanks to Rachael, Ian and Logan and all their family and friends for their amazing efforts last weekend and also to Morecambe Bay Hospitals Charity, The Screwfix Foundation and Burlington Stone.”

Kim McDonald, Trustee of The Screwfix Foundation, said: “I can’t even begin to imagine how it must feel for any parent who has suffered the devastating loss of their baby. It is fantastic to see the money Screwfix staff and customers raised being invested back into such a worthwhile cause and I’m delighted to hear that the donation has helped to create a peaceful environment for bereaved families.”

A film about the garden’s make-over is available to watch here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SmpmBh8M8Gw

Morecambe Bay Hospitals Charity is a registered charity that raises funds and supports UHMBT’s five hospital sites.

Donations received go to providing those little extras that help make the hospital experience better or improve outcomes for patients.

Money is used to fund additional medical equipment, medical research, specialist training and service improvements.

It is the generosity of the local communities that enables the charity to enhance and support the hospitals across Morecambe Bay and the lives of the 365,000 people that live here.

To find out more about Morecambe Bay Hospitals Charity, or to make a donation, please visit: www.mbhcharity.org.