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Couple open bereavement centre for families who have lost children

A couple who gave birth to a stillborn baby boy have opened a support centre for bereaved families in Nottinghamshire.
Martin Sommerville and his partner, Carly Williams, had their stillborn son, Zephyr, at Nottingham City hospital in 2013.
The couple, freelance artists from St Ann’s, said their son died unexpectedly but it became their goal to set up a centre to help other grieving families come to terms with their loss.
The couple said that one of the hardest moments was returning to the same ward where they lost their child to access support services. It was therefore important to create a place that did not feel like a hospital ward but a comfy and homely space.
After three years in the making, the Zephyr centre, in Embly Road at the hospital, is set to open on Saturday, April 1.
Carly, 35, told the Post: “Anyone who has had a baby or child die, going back to the ward is really evocative and the painful memories are all still there. We wanted to create a place where you are not on your own because it is such an isolated and terrible experience.”
Martin, 39, added: “There is not a physical place where people can go and we dreamed that one way or another we would make one. It feels really good. We wanted the place to feel more like a home than a hospital.”
The centre will provide counselling, coffee mornings, peer support, help with planning a funeral, and also gardening, arts and crafts and yoga sessions.
Emma O’Brien, 27, of Beeston, is one of the first mothers that will be attending the centre. She lost her first son, Oliver, when she was 39 weeks pregnant. She said: “We don’t know why, it just happened. For us when Oliver died it was hard to go back to the hospital for appointments. The post mortem was in the same area where you have the scan.
“Walking through the front door of the hospital made it really hard, it was the same journey we had done when we lost Oliver. It was reliving everything again. Even though Zephyr is at the hospital it does not feel like a hospital.”
Jackie Browne, child bereavement facilitator at Nottingham Children’s Hospital, said: “Zephyr’s identity will mean that those looking for this type of support or information – as a bereaved person or as a friend or professional trying to help them – will not have to trawl through the internet trying to find something, as it will automatically come to people’s minds as the place to turn to with the people there who will help in any way they can either directly or signposting to other services.
“Most importantly it will become known as a place that doesn’t forget and allows, encourages and helps bereaved families as they carry on with life to include and remember these cherished babies and children.”

Source Nottingham Post