A memorial for lost babies has been unveiled on the Wirral
3 weeks ago
A special memorial plaque, remembering babies lost during pregnancy as long ago as the 1960s, has been unveiled at Wirral’s Landican Cemetery.
Local campaigners had been calling for a memorial that acknowledged the resting place of their babies as – due to custom and practice nationally at the time – they were removed from the hospital and taken to be buried often before a mother had an opportunity to see their baby.
The development of a lasting memorial for these and all the other babies has since been an aspiration for affected families, many of which have come together following the story of Gina Jacobs of Greasby.
Gina, whose son Robert was stillborn in February 1969, never got to meet her baby and instead her husband was asked to collect Robert from the hospital and take him to the cemetery himself in a box.
Historically, lost babies were either buried in a communal baby grave, or occasionally in the same plot as someone else who had been laid to rest that day. With support of cemetery staff, Gina was able to find out that Robert had been buried in a communal grave with other babies.
Other mothers and family members have since contacted Gina for support and she believes she and cemetery staff have helped around 30 families find out more details about their baby’s resting place.
Landican staff have been working with affected families on the development of a lasting memorial and it was unveiled by Wirral’s Mayor, Cllr Jerry Williams, at a ceremony attended by many families at Landican on Monday 13th November.
Cllr Williams said: “The purpose of this new plaque is to give parents a peaceful place to sit, reflect, and remember their babies who were lost during pregnancy. There are many parents and families whose babies were cremated or buried who still do not know where the final resting place is. It is important that these parents and families have a place where they can grieve their loss and remember their lost children.
“We are aware that many families across Britain were treated differently over the last 70 years and that the treatment today would be very different than in the previous period, but this does not detract from the grief that everyone may still be experiencing.”
Gina said: “Since embarking on my quest to reunite as many babies as possible with their families, it has become apparent to me just how much the pain of the past has lingered. So many parents – mums and dads – have carried the pain and trauma of the practise of the past.
“There are so many babies yet to be found. I am hoping that the events of today will enable more families to come forward as well as bringing some comfort and peace to the families who have now been reunited with their babies. I would like to thank everyone who has supported me on this journey. I never would have dreamt that things would have evolved in the way that they have done.”
Cllr Liz Grey, Chair of Wirral Council’s Environment, Climate Emergency and Transport Committee said:
“The loss of a baby is a tragedy for parents and the trauma of this is now mercifully better understood in hospitals and across other organisations involved in supporting grieving families.
“There have been significant changes nationally – in practice and law – to ensure that those who suffer this tragedy now and in future are supported in the most compassionate and respectful manner.
“I hope that with the unveiling of the memorial plaque at Landican local families affected by the insensitive practices of the past are able to take some comfort in knowing there is somewhere for them to come where their loss is acknowledged and remembered.”
As well as the plaque to remember the babies in the baby garden, Gina also presented the Mayor of Wirral with a plaque thanking cemetery staff for their support and assistance over the last 18 months. It will be put on display in the Book of Remembrance room at Landican cemetery.