Butterfly Garden opened at Doncaster Royal Infirmary

To mark Baby Loss Awareness Week, on Thursday 11 October, Doncaster and Bassetlaw Teaching Hospitals (DBTH) opened its long-awaited Butterfly Garden.

A place dedicated to providing comfort to those who have experienced the loss of an infant, the tranquil venue will also be available to anyone who is need of a quiet place to think.

The project is the brainchild of DBTH’s Neonatal team, who first came up with the idea back in 1997. It was originally conceived as a memorial space that would be dedicated to parents who have experienced a miscarriage, still birth, or neonatal death.

Headway on this remained dormant for a period of time, until progress was dramatically reignited four years ago, spurred on by patient feedback and encouragement for the project. In response to this, staff at the Trust, working with the Grace Project and bereaved families, organised several fundraising events and activities, all with the aim of gathering money for the garden’s construction and eventual maintenance.  Costing £15,000 in total, much of this was raised by local well-wishers, with additional funding provided by DBTH.

Key to these efforts was Kaye Bulliman, Midwife at Doncaster Royal Infirmary (DRI), who, with the aid of the choir ‘Simply Voices’, helped to raise £3,000.

Speaking about the garden, Kaye said: ‘’This has been a passion-project for many current members of Team DBTH, including Sarah Spencer, Neonatal Unit Sister and Sarah Newton, Community Midwife, as well as our former colleagues Nick Kerry and Chloe Tedaldi. Each of them was instrumental in coming up with the idea for the garden and guiding it towards completion, so it’s absolutely fantastic to see their dream finally come to fruition. Of course, we couldn’t have done it without the generous support and tireless efforts of the families involved, as well as our own Estates and Facilities team, who have done so much make this vision a reality.’’

Once the garden was ready for unveiling to the public, the Trust arranged a formal opening which took place on 11 October. There, visitors were able to explore the peaceful and intimate environment, surrounded by ornate flora, rose arches, a gazebo, decorative pebble formations and plenty of seating.

Trust Chair, Suzy Brain England OBE, cut the ribbon and formally opened the garden to the public. Of the occasion, Suzy said: ‘’I was very pleased to be able to open this garden to the public, as I know how important it has been to everyone involved. A great deal of effort went into fund raising, designing and building this special memorial space. I am proud of what has been accomplished and of the opportunity this now gives to bereaved parents. I am sure that this garden will be of great value to our visitors, whatever they are going through.’’

Baby Loss Awareness Week is held annually from 9 to 15 October. A collaboration between more than 60 charities across the UK, Baby Loss Awareness Week aims to raise awareness about the key issues affecting those who have experienced pregnancy or baby loss in the UK.