[A] garden designed by parents, who lost their baby daughter at birth, to give other parents facing the same trauma somewhere to find some “peace and fresh air” has been funded at the new South Lakes Birth Centre by the Bayb’s Maternity Appeal.
Two years ago this March, Ian and Rachael Gowing lost their little girl Berry at Lancaster Royal Infirmary (RLI). Already parents to Logan, now three and a half, they are set to become parents again at the end of the month (February) when Rachael is booked for an elective caesarian section to deliver baby number three at the infirmary.
But in memory of Berry and wanting to help others facing the same pain, Ian, Rachael and several friends took on a ‘DIY SOS’ style makeover of a tired bereavement garden within the grounds of the RLI’s maternity unit.
They transformed it into a comforting oasis, volunteering their further support. So now, at the invitation of Paula Richardson, Bay Hospitals Charity’s Head of Charity & Fundraising, they have done the same at Furness General Hospital, helped by Logan’s godfather Phil Sinclair, for parents going through the same ordeal in Barrow.
Paula said: “I am immensely grateful to Ian, Rachael and Phil for taking on this project. The fact that Ian and Rachael have been through this traumatic experience themselves means that there is a real empathy in what they have worked to create.”
A stonemason by trade, Ian said: “With something like this, you need somewhere to be on your own, to contemplate what might have been. You need peace and fresh air. You need to see the sky and space to rebuild.”
Ian, Rachael and Phil have installed a hand-crafted water feature, picnic bench style seating and a stone trough that will shortly be planted with flowers. A further donation from John Fisher Foundation will also help with plans for bench seating, a remembrance style tree, additional plants and child’s activity bench to be added to the garden, which is directly assessed from the bereavement suite, a special room that has also been furnished by the Bayb’s Maternity Appeal to include a double bed and kitchen among other touches designed to make it as comfortable as possible.
Sascha Wells, Director of Midwifery and Obstetrics for University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust (UHMB), said: “I am exceptionally grateful to both Racheal and Ian for the wonderful gift they have given to other mothers and families who sadly like them, experience the loss of their baby.
“Tragically, one in every 200 babies born in the UK is born asleep and it is parents such as this that the Bayb’s appeal also wants to help. The suite and now garden are there for them, with the support and care from midwives and others to help them through such a sad and difficult time.”
The Gowings – Ian is co-owner of stonemasons T.A. Law Ltd – live in Kirkby Stephens.
The Bayb’s Maternity Appeal is now almost a year old. It launched last February to fund “extras” for the new South Lakes Birth Centre at Furness General Hospital with the aim of making it second to none in country. These “extras” fall outside the remit of what the NHS is able to fund. The appeal, which is set to close at the end of next month (March), now stands at £203,106.12 towards its £250,000 target.
To find out more about the appeal and make a donation, visit Bay Hospitals Charity’s website at www.bayhospitalscharity.org