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Two girls holding butterflies they have madeand smiling

A special and poignant butterfly remembrance event was held on Sunday 24 July at Airedale Hospital, for families affected by the loss of a baby.

The event, which took place in the Sunbeam Garden alongside the SiMBA tree of Tranquility, was organised by the bereavement midwifery team who run the Sunbeam Support Group alongside SiMBA, a charity who provide Memory boxes to Airedale NHS Foundation Trust. The Memory boxes help parents to make precious memories of the short time they spend with their baby and SiMBA also offer ongoing support.

The remembrance service gives families the opportunity to be with others who understand their loss and brings them together with friends, healthcare professionals and the community, to honour babies in a gentle and meaningful way.

Families were able to register and give their baby’s name, or the name they know their baby by and the SiMBA charity gathered them together and displayed them on wooden butterfly bunting at the event.  After the service, families were also gifted personalised wooden bunting and a packet of butterfly-friendly wildflower seeds to plant somewhere special to them, to attract butterflies in their natural habitat.

During the event three mums bravely did readings, accompanied by a reading from Liz Maitland, Lead Chaplain at Airedale hospital and the Cullingworth Community Choir also sang during the event.

Bev Beaumont, midwife at Airedale NHS Foundation Trust said:

“This is an incredibly special event which hasn’t been possible over the last 3 years due to Covid, so we are very pleased to welcome families together again.

“I couldn’t be prouder of all we have achieved from creating the peaceful Sunbeam Garden, to the summerhouse that families can use there and the priceless Tree of Tranquility with our babies’ leaves attached to honour them always and to never be forgotten.”

Also at the event was local dad Liam Daniel from Keighley and his friends who have raised over £3000 for the SiMBA charity after Liam and Danielle’s son Ralphie was born sleeping.  Liam and his friends ran the Edinburgh marathon on 29th May to raise money for the SiMBA charity who helped him and Danielle make memories with Ralphie in the days after he was born.

Liam says:

“My son Ralphie was sadly born sleeping on New Year’s Eve. The midwives (Amanda, Laura, Gemma and Bev to name a few) at Airedale took fantastic care of my wife and I during the days, weeks and even months after Ralphie was born. A few hours after he was born we were given a box containing lots of little keepsakes to make memories with Ralphie – we didn’t realise at that time just how much this would mean to us now. These memory boxes are donated to hospitals by SiMBA, to allow parents who have lost their babies to make special memories at what is an incredibly difficult time.

“I wanted to give something back to SiMBA, so I signed up to do the Edinburgh Marathon along with two of my friends, Tom Storrie and Tom Snowdon. Together we raised over £3,000 which will go towards memory boxes for any future families who also sadly have to go through the most tragic time. We will be forever grateful for the care we received at Airedale and Sunbeam.“

Also at the event were Deputy Mayor Cllr John Kirby, Sarah Simpson, Head of Midwifery at Airedale NHS Foundation Trust and Sara Fitzsimmons, CEO of SiMBA.

Sara Fitzsimmons said:

“It was such a beautiful event in collaboration with the Sunbeam support group team, within the captivating grounds of the Sunbeam Garden. So many of the parents who attended the event took time after to chat with me and it was clear that the event had been missed.

Some of the parents attending were newly bereaved parents who felt the Butterfly Remembrance was a very poignant way of honouring their baby. There were tears and smiles and opportunities for families to honour their baby in such a positive way”.

If you have been affected by the loss of a baby you can find out more about the Simba charity here and the Sunbeam support group here.

Monthly meetings are held in the Sunbeam Garden room on the last Thursday of every month. They are held as a drop in between 18.30-20.30 where you will always be made welcome.