Work has begun on a major £51,000 project to create a dedicated place for families to reflect and remember the loss of their babies - the first of its kind in south Fylde.
The project, which is being led by Fylde Council in partnership with Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust and local bereaved families, will see a new a new infant memorial garden built at Lytham Park Cemetery.
Blue Skies, the fund-raising arm of the local NHS Trust has also been involved in the project, while £2,000 towards the funding has been raised by Niki and Neil Duerden from St Annes, whose daughter Amelia Isabella Grace was stillborn in 2011.
The garden has been designed by award-winning sculptor and landscape architect, Philippe Handford, who was also commissioned to create a new piece of public art to sit within the garden.
Mr Handford, who has previously created works for Google and Oxfam, said: “The garden and artwork I have designed sit in harmony with one another and incorporate many of the signs and symbols from nature that bereaved families associate with the child they have lost.
“This was an important part of creating a meaningful space that will allow families to make personal connections to the garden.”
Following four months of discussions with members of Blackpool and Preston Sands - a group which supports anyone affected by the death of a baby - the final designs for both the garden and sculpture have now been completed.
An oak tree sculpted from steel, to feature a combination of copper and opaque perspex leaves hanging from its branches will sit slightly off the garden’s centre.
The piece will mirror the existing oak tree which has stood in the garden for many years. Cobblestones and slate will flow from its trunk down towards the Cemetery lake and this river effect will be mirrored by a winding planting scheme in one of the other grassed quadrants.
The copper leaves will also act as memorials and bereaved families will be able to purchase these to be engraved and hung on the tree when the garden is open.
Helen Grimshaw, chairman of Blackpool and Preston Sands group, said: “We want families to feel welcomed and respected, a place where they can stay a while to reflect and remember their babies.
“We hope that families will feel comforted, calm and safe and in the garden Philippe has created.”
Megan Murray, a bereavement nurse specialist for Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, added: “The loss of a baby is so different to any other kind of loss and the acknowledgment for families that the creation of this garden will provide will bring comfort to many.”
Darren Bell, head of leisure and culture at Fylde Council, said: “Following representations from the bereavement support nurse at Blackpool Victoria Hospital and local bereaved families, it was agreed to create an Infant Memorial Garden to provide an area where infants up to 12-months-old can be remembered.”