Parents raise money for remembrance garden at hospital

Claire Watson, from Cheltenham, is one of the organisers of a bereaved parent support group who have embarked on a series of sponsored challenges and events for the outdoor space. It will be a place for anyone affected by baby loss to have somewhere for quiet reflection and to remember their children.

Claire and her husband James lost their son Jacobi in August 2018.

“Jacobi arrived very early when I was nearly 24 weeks pregnant and sadly after four days in hospital and two hours of cuddles in our arms, he passed away. He was our perfect little boy,” she said.

“The staff at Gloucestershire Royal were absolutely incredible. We had an amazing midwife who came to Jacobi’s funeral at Worcester Cathedral because she made such a difference to our experience. She was there every step of the way.”

Claire, 34, said having the support of the midwives and also fellow parents who have gone through a similar experience has been so important.

“Nothing prepares you for losing a child and everyone grieves differently. I needed to talk about Jacobi to keep his memory alive,” she said.

“I wanted to hear from other parents who had lost children so we could share memories of our babies together.

“When our bereavement midwife Nikki Dobson introduced me to other women who have been through this, I jumped at the chance and we now have a monthly drop-in support group called Forget-Me-Not for anyone who needs help or wants to talk.”

Claire and James later underwent five rounds of unsuccessful IVF before their son Louis was born via a surrogate on August 9th last year.

“Louis is our miracle baby. He was born only four days before his big brother Jacobi’s fourth birthday. He is just amazing, a really happy boy and we feel very lucky to have him,” she said.

This new garden will be a place they can take Louis to remember Jacobi.

“We would like the garden to have a chalkboard for siblings to write messages to their angel baby brother or sister and the big centrepiece to be a memory tree and if parents would like to, they can have their child’s name engraved,” Claire said.

“It will make a massive difference. A lot of parents don’t have a special place for the babies they have lost. This garden is a way to honour their children, a place to go for quiet reflection or at certain milestones. It is important not just for their grieving journey but their healing journey as well.”

Claire and the other Forget-Me-Not members are determined to raise as much of the £45,000 needed as possible for Cheltenham and Gloucester Hospitals Charity which is supporting the garden project. Members of the group, which meets in Gloucester, are doing everything from cake sales and coffee mornings to a fundraising family walk and a wing walk later in the year.

They have already raised more than £2,000 from a coffee morning at King’s School, in Gloucester, on Saturday February 18th and they will be embarking on their next challenge, a sponsored family sunset walk on Saturday April 22nd.

The walk takes place between Cheltenham General and Gloucestershire Royal. People can choose to walk 10, five or one mile to help raise money for the garden. On July 28th, Claire will also be joined by three other people to take part in a daring wing walk on a plane in Cirencester.

Cheltenham and Gloucester Hospital Charity Senior Fundraiser Karen Organ said: “Everyone at the charity is truly grateful for the immense time and effort of the Forget-Me-Not group for all they are doing to make this garden a reality. We hope as many people as possible will donate to support their efforts or even set up their own fundraising challenge or event to help create this very special garden.”

To support the Forget-Me-Not group’s fundraising efforts, please visit their JustGiving page:

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