15 Oct Maria’s story
Maria Gormley has organised a Ribbon Remembrance display for Baby Loss Awareness Week in Clacton-on-Sea in memory of her daughter Laura, who died shortly after birth, and would have turned 33 this year.
Maria has written about how she began doing this in 2019 and some tips for anyone wanting to create a similar display.
I did my first Baby Loss Awareness Remembrance Ribbon Display three years ago. My colleague Marion was going to organise her one in Scotland and gave me the idea and said how about doing one in Clacton-on-Sea.
I already knew that we had some beautiful public gardens along Clacton seafront and that one of them was a memorial garden, it’s location was perfect, it was on the end of the promenade, just opposite the pier and the sea and has lots of public footfall. The garden has metal railings all along and I knew it would be perfect for my Baby Loss Awareness Remembrance Ribbon Display.
My first step was to ask permission from my local council to hold the ribbon display at the garden. I had to contact the Open Spaces Officer and the Head of Public Realm – I emailed with all the details of what I was wanting to do it did take approx. 6-8 weeks to get the permission to have the display (might be different for the council in different areas) – I have also had to email them each year to apply for the permission again to hold the ribbon display although it is not too lengthy a process on these occasions. I would say allow yourself plenty of time to get the permission from your council.
About two to three weeks before the ribbon display I post in my personal Facebook page asking friends/family if they would like a ribbon and in the local groups on Facebook to let the local community know about the ribbon display and to ask if anyone would like a pink, blue or white ribbon added to the display with baby name or a few short words for the ribbon and they message or reply to my post on Facebook with their baby name and colour ribbon, I then write these out and add them to the display. I also let people know that they can go to the display and add their own ribbon if they would like. Allow yourself plenty of time to write out the ribbons. The ribbons are lengths of ribbon all cut to roughly the same size and then I write the names in black permanent marker.
My display is made from netting (you can get this type of thing from any big DIY store) – I attach some small knitted pink, blue and white ribbons to my display but you can also tie some ribbons to the netting or of course just have all the ribbons tied to the railings at your chosen are for the display, this will be just as effective.
Around two weeks before Baby Loss Awareness Week I contact my local radio station and newspapers to ask if they would share my story and ribbon display to encourage people to come and see it.
I then take my display all ready with the knitted ribbons already attached down to the railings on the morning of 9 October and attach to the memorial garden railings. I also attach a couple of the Baby Loss Awareness posters and flyers to the display so that people can read why it is there.
I tie all the pink, blue and white ribbons to the railings and leave it there until the morning of 16 October and I go and take it down and remove anything that anyone has added, flowers, cards, stones, teddies, balloons (I keep all of these in case anyone contacts me to have them back).
Then I go down to the display every day during that week at some time either morning or afternoon in my Sands t-shirt and just stay at the display for an hour or so to see if anyone asks any questions, I also take with me some ribbons and a permanent marker in case anyone would like to add a ribbon. I am unable to accept any donations whilst I am at the display as you would need to have a street collection license from your local council to do this.
Make sure you take lots of photos or video of the ribbon display once it is all up and share on your social media and on any local community Facebook pages if you can.
Some people will ask if they can make a donation for their ribbon so I have a JustGiving page set up too just for my ribbon display to collect any donations.
– Maria Gormley, Laura’s mum.
There are many organisations that offer support to anyone affected by pregnancy and baby loss.
Sands is here to support anyone affected by the death of a baby. Sands’ free Helpline is available on 0808 164 3332 10am to 3pm Monday to Friday and 6-9pm Tuesday and Thursday evenings. You can also email firstname.lastname@example.org for support. www.sands.org.uk/support