All welcome at new child bereavement centre Open Day

Parents who suffer the loss of a pregnancy, baby or child now have a special support centre at Nottingham’s City Hospital thanks to the dedication of a Nottingham couple. The centre – named Zephyr’s after the couple’s son who was stillborn at the hospital – is opening on Saturday 1 April (all welcome 12noon to 4pm: City Hospital Campus, Derwent Flats, Embley Road, Nottingham NH5 1RE).

Carly Williams and Martin Sommerville, from St Ann’s Nottingham raised £20,000 through Nottingham Hospitals Charity and worked with other families, NUH staff and volunteers to transform a former apartment on the City Hospital campus into Zephyr’s, where families will be able to access counselling and peer support away from the maternity wards.

Carly says: “Pregnancy loss is a bleak and tough subject, and when it hits, it strikes hard, leaving behind an isolating and very lonely kind of parenthood to try to navigate. When our baby boy Zephyr died we set out on a very different path to the one we’d spent nine months imagining.

“Midwives and hospital staff did their best to ease our broken hearts, but the surroundings felt so wrong. I didn’t feel comfort within the walls of the maternity building where a busy waiting room bustled with expecting couples. I desperately needed counselling but going back to the ward was too tough to handle.  For us, and for many parents we’ve met since, that was the last place we wanted to be.

“We set up Zephyr’s in our son’s name to create a better place for families and staff to come together in compassionate surroundings, to find strength to talk openly about our children and grief and be in the company of others who understand. It is wonderful to see that dream now become reality.”

Their eventual aim is to build a bespoke centre within the hospital grounds, but until that dream is realised, they are opening Zephyr’s in the refurbished unit at the City Hospital’s Derwent flats.

On Saturday 1 April Zephyr’s is holding a Family Day from 12:00 pm till 4:00pm at which families, friends and grandparents can view the facilities, take part in arts activities, meet the staff and families and learn about the project’s future plans. Anyone affected by stillbirth, child bereavement or pregnancy loss is invited to come along and find out more about what Zephyr’s offers.

Jackie Browne, Child Bereavement Facilitator at Nottingham University Hospitals Trust says: “It is wonderful to see Zephyr’s open its doors to bereaved families. It will hopefully become known as a place that doesn’t forget, that allows, encourages and helps families as they carry on with life to include and remember their cherished babies and children.”

Nottingham Hospitals Charity Chief Executive Barbara Cathcart says: “Zephyr’s shows what can be done when people work with our Charity to make their dream project become reality. Carly and Martin came to us with an idea and it is wonderful to see this now taking shape. Zephyrs promises to be a place of compassion where families can receive much needed support to help them recover from the heartbreak of child bereavement or stillbirth.”