Lady Astor of Hever, Patron of charity Abigail’s Footsteps, officially opened the new maternity bereavement suite ‘Abigail’s Place’ at Medway Maritime Hospital on Tuesday 1st November 2016. The Countess of Wessex was due to officially open the suite but was sadly unable attend.
This major project has been funded by stillbirth charity Abigail’s Footsteps and marks the end of a successful partnership with local construction firm CEC Developments Limited and other local businesses. The scheme has also benefitted from significant donations from charity supporters from across Kent, and support from Medway NHS Foundation Trust
David Ward, co-founder of Abigail’s Footsteps said:
“We are delighted and honoured that Lady Astor is visiting the new suite. This is our first purpose built bereavement suite where parents can spend precious time with their stillborn baby away from the cries of new-borns. It is particularly poignant that our first suite should be at Medway Maritime Hospital as it was here that my wife Jo gave birth to Abigail who was the inspiration for the charity.”
Abigail’s Footsteps is campaigning and fundraising nationally to help other NHS hospitals secure maternity bereavement suites. The Medway Maritime unit is the “gold standard” in the provision of care for parents and families who experience a still birth. The charity is also leading the call for the introduction of mandatory bereavement training for all midwives.
Diana Hamilton-Fairley, Medical Director at Medway NHS Foundation Trust said:
“The new bereavement suite will provide a place of solace and comfort for parents, where they can spend those precious last few moments with their child. This has taken months of hard work and dedication - particularly on the part of David and Jo Ward –so it is great that the project has now reached fruition. We’re also delighted to have the company of Lady Astor to mark this positive, yet poignant occasion.”
Abigail’s Footsteps continues to work to improve the support available to bereaved families.
To date the charity has:
- Developed an E learning programme for midwives in conjunction with the Royal College of Midwives and Sands charity
- Provided cold cots, cameras and memory sticks so that parents can have precious memories of their babies
- Funded and co-produced an award winning educational film that shows stillbirth from a mother’s perspective
- Created a wish list for all the UK’s hospitals to fill the gaps where specialist equipment is still needed