Her Royal Highness Princess Michael of Kent officially opened a new Maternity Memorial Garden at St George’s Hospital yesterday (Thursday 14 October).

The garden, which will serve as a quiet place for reflection for anyone affected by pregnancy or baby loss, as well as a permanent memorial to those mothers that have died during and after pregnancy, was opened to coincide with Baby Loss Awareness Week.

At St George’s, the maternity service employs a team of three midwives to provide dedicated bereavement care, and with support from a psychotherapist to provide counselling for anyone affected by pregnancy loss, or have lost a partner during pregnancy.

B&Q funded the garden as part of its new store openings in Tooting and Wandsworth earlier this year, which saw B&Q commission award-winning garden designer Matt Childs to bring to life the St George’s Maternity Bereavement team’s vision using B&Q products and plants. The garden was built by St George’s head gardener, John Greco, as well as volunteers from B&Q, and supported by St George’s Hospital Charity.

The garden features a sculpture of wild flowers, which will hold a candle to be lit as part of Baby Loss Awareness Week’s Wave of Light. The Wave of Light takes place every year from 7pm-8pm on the last day of Baby Loss Awareness Week in memory of all the babies who lit up lives for such a short time.

St George’s maternity staff and colleagues from across the hospital gathered with families that have been affected by pregnancy loss and maternal loss to see Princess Michael of Kent officially open the garden.

Princess Michael of Kent said: “I was honoured to be invited to St George’s today to officially open the Maternity Memorial Garden. The garden is a beautiful space that will mean so much to so many staff, patients and their families.

“It was a pleasure to meet the St George’s Bereavement Midwives and to learn more about their work – they do incredible work and provide such an important service to all those affected by pregnancy loss.”

Annabelle Keegan, Deputy Director of Midwifery at St George’s said: “Our maternity bereavement team wanted a place where families and midwives could go to remember those babies and mothers who have sadly died during or after pregnancy – we hope the maternity memorial garden offers a reflective and peaceful space to remember them for both families and staff who have been affected. The Bereavement and gardening team have worked incredibly hard to make this a reality and I’d like to thank them for this, as well as the continued dedication of the whole maternity team to families cared for here at St George’s.”

Joanne Shanks, Regional Manager, B&Q, said: “Seeing the work of the St George’s Bereavement team and all that they do to provide support to those affected by losing loved ones has been hugely inspiring. It has been a privilege to have worked alongside the St George’s team, and I would like to give a special thanks to the gardening team at St George’s who have been integral to building this garden and to Matt Childs for the inspiring design.”

Photo credit: the Remember My Baby charity