‘Forever In Bloom’: Charity calls for help from local businesses for £1m garden project

L-R Oliver Chapman of Liz Lake Associates, Lilian Greenwood MP, Head of Parks for Nottingham City Council Eddie Curry, Richard Daniels of Forever Stars and bereavement midwife Christa Burgess pictured during the launch of the Forever Stars remembrance garden fundraising bid, at Highfields Park

The Nottingham-based charity Forever Stars, which was set up to help bereaved parents of stillborn babies and early baby loss, recently announced inspiring plans to create a Memorial Garden in the city to provide a place of reflection for families. They are now appealing to local businesses for help and involvement with the highly worthwhile project.

The Forever Stars Memorial Garden is being created at Highfields Park, and will include reflection areas, a picnic area, a nature walk and a tree of tranquillity where the names the babies and children can be inscribed upon the leaves. The gardens will also feature a circular area that will be used for get togethers and special events like the Wave of Light.

The charity was set up by Richard and Michelle Daniels after their daughter Emily was stillborn in December 2013, and it has already raised more than two hundred and fifty thousand pounds for “serenity suites” at the QMC and more recently, the City Hospital.

Forever Stars wants to create a public space of focus, relaxation and reflection for families outside of the hospitals, and to help raise awareness of baby loss.

Richard Daniels said: “Our ‘Forever In Bloom’ campaign is a very ambitious step forward for Forever Stars but one that we are proud and excited to be making. The bereavement suites have provided vital immediate comfort and support to grieving families but we feel there is also a need to provide a more lasting space for reflection outside of the hospitals.

“There are memorial gardens all over the UK but we don’t have one here in Nottingham for baby loss and we want to change that. We have been able to do so much already with the incredible support we have had and now we need to make the next step for families.”

Talking to East Midlands Business Link, Richard continued to give details on the garden: “Though it’s a place of reflection it is also a place where you can bring your whole family, unlike other reflection spaces, and get together. This is a five-year plan and we need support from Nottingham and East Midlands businesses.”

The work will take place in three phases – the lake phase, the Nature Walk phase and the Community area phase – and The total costs will be approx £1,000,000. Forever Stars is therefore calling for help from businesses to bring the project into fruition, whether that be through raising money, or offering support on site.

Jo Sharp, Operations and Fundraising Manager at Forever Stars said: “There are three ways to help and get involved – the provision of materials, corporate sponsorship and fundraising, and volunteering or pledging time of employees.”

Local businesses are therefore being encouraged to help with the creation of the park, in a uniquely involved way.

Lilian Greenwood, Member of Parliament for Nottingham South, who has recently been involved with important work relating to the tragedy of still births said: “Not only are [Forever Stars] creating a space for parents and families to relax, remember and reflect but also a lasting public memorial to their children.”

In an interview with East Midlands Business Link she added: “Baby death doesn’t discriminate, and this is a place that will prompt people to talk about their experiences. It is a big project and it needs the help of the community.”

It was clear at the announcement that community support has already begun, with helmets and reflective vests for the event being provided by Paragon.

Emma O’Brien from Nottinghamshire Sands, a key partner of Forever Starts in helping raise funds, said: “Gardens like this are important as lots of families don’t have graves to visit. This will help families feel and get support, and it’s great to be a part of that. The gardens are good as they will be used by everybody, including the general public, and will help raise awareness.”

Councillor Dave Trimble, Portfolio Holder for Leisure and Culture at Nottingham City Council said: “The creation of this beautiful reflective garden is a great addition to Highfields Park which is going through a £4.8 million HLF restoration and will benefit many families as well as the wider community.”

Richard Daniels concluded: “We would like to thank the council for donating the land and all of our supporters for enabling us to get this project off the ground. Yes this is ambitious but it is needed, both for the families and for raising awareness of baby loss. By having a more public space, we hope to create not just a lasting memorial and tribute but also a place that will help more people to share their own stories and to understand the loss of other families like our own.”

For details of how to get you and your business involved, and support Forever Stars, visit www.foreverstars.org or donate via JustGiving