December 12 2013 Latest news:
Sunday, June 10, 2012
SANDS group plans memorial garden at War Memorial Garden in Ashford Town centre
A memorial garden is planned for Ashford for parents who have suffered the heart-wrenching tragedy of a stillbirth.
SANDS, which stands for Stillbirth And Neonatal Deaths, was set up for families who had endured such agony.
Ashford volunteer Emma Oram joined after her son Liam was stillborn at full term.
Emma used to live in Hertfordshire where there is a special memorial garden for parents like her to sit and contemplate their loss.
But when she moved to Ashford she realised the nearest one was in Tunbridge Wells, and so she set about organising with the SANDS charity for a local garden.
She said it is a devastating experience that affects 17 families every day in the UK – 11 stillborn and six neonatal, which is death within 28 days. Annually, that’s the same as everyone on board 16 jumbo jets, and 10 times the number of cot deaths.
She said one in every 200 babies are stillborn in this country, yet the subject still remains a taboo and the statistics virtually unchanged for the last decade.
The support group was founded to help parents who have lost babies, and Emma thought a memorial garden in the town would provide a major step for mums and dads towards accepting what’s happened to them.
It has the support of the council and landscape architect Lloyd Bore is producing the plans based on the group’s ideas.
It will be in an area inside the existing War Memorial Garden in Ashford Town centre.
Emma said: “After Liam died, I knew I had to get involved in raising awareness of the very taboo but real problem of stillbirth and raising funds for the amazing work that SANDS does.
“I moved into the area from Hertfordshire, where we had a beautiful baby memorial garden that I often visited to gain great comfort. Sadly, while I was there, very often I would see other people affected by the death of a baby.
“I realised when I moved to Ashford that the nearest garden to us was in Tunbridge Wells so we desperately need one in our area - and luckily Ashford Borough Council agreed.
“We are now fundraising to try and get enough money to get this project off the ground.”
And she is also appealing to companies, saying for £500 they can sponsor a bench or flowerbed, and she has asked residents to donate what they can to make the garden a reality.
The group is also looking for a landscape gardener. Emma said: “We would love to hear from anyone who would be interested in placing a stone for their baby in the garden.
“The SANDS Memorial Garden will be a place for reflection and a way for parents to express their grief and keep their babies’ memories alive. Individual stones can be engraved with each baby’s name.”
Emma said over half of all stilllbirths remain unexplained, and she added: “These babies are born perfectly formed, with no clear reason why they died. We need to understand what is causing these deaths.”
Emma has a donation page at www.justgiving.com/ashfordbabygarden. For more information on the garden and for bereaved parents who would like to know more about the SANDS Support Group, a meeting is held in Chartham Village Hall at 7.45pm every second Monday.
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