PARENTS who have suffered the heartache of losing a baby marked the opening of a memorial garden by releasing balloons in their memory.
About 150 parents gathered at Kingsdown Crematorium on Saturday for the official opening of the 20m x 20m space, which was created by Swindon Sands, a group of bereaved parents.
It has taken a year to complete, and group chairman Cathy Milburn said it was a great feeling to get it finished.
“The whole team worked weekends, days and evenings to get the garden ready. It has been amazing, we are so pleased with it,” she said.
The garden includes a baby statue bearing inscriptions, benches, flowers and painted pebbles.
Cathy and another bereaved mother started the group after Cathy’s son, Adam Lee Milburn, was stillborn at 31 weeks in January 2007.
“The garden just feels like a way of bringing out a positive. When you lose a child you just don’t see how anything positive can come out of it,” she said.
“To put my heart and energy into something like this, I feel like I’m doing my little boy proud and all of us feel like we are doing our little ones proud. I know they are shining down on us today for sure.”
Cathy, of Middleaze, was at the opening, which fell on International Baby Loss day, with her sons, 12-year-old Peter and two-year-old Ben.
Parents and children paused to watch their balloons drift into the distance after the release at 2.30pm before being welcomed into the garden for the first time.
Also at the opening was co-chairman, Richard Jones, whose son Harry was stillborn in January last year.
“When I watched the balloons go off I had a whole gamut of emotions. Initially you’re thinking about why you’re here and what has brought you here and the fact you have gone through pain and suffering. It is the overwhelming feeling of wanting your child to be proud of what you have done,” he said.
“To have got the garden open is incredible. We want to encourage people to come and sit down and relax and just enjoy the peace here.”
The garden, which will be open during normal crematorium hours, was supported by Swindon Council but the charity raised £5,000 to complete the project and finished the work themselves thanks to generous donations from volunteers.
Swindon Mayor Ray Ballman, who was at the opening, said: “I think the garden will give a lot of comfort to a lot of people. It is beautifully laid out, they have worked very hard to raise the money and finish the garden.”
Swindon Sands is hoping to raise funds to maintain the garden at a charity ball on November 5 at Alexandra House.