Mum of stillborn daughter: 'All I have to remember her is a Polaroid photo'

Maria Gormley with the display at Clacton Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND

Maria Gormley, whose daughter was stillborn more than 30 years ago - Credit: Charlotte Bond

Your first child is meant to be your pride and joy - yet all Maria Gormley has to remember her first daughter by is a Polaroid photo.

But now, more than three decades on from the heartbreaking tragedy, the mum is to poignantly line a seafront with ribbons - to remember all those children who have been stillborn.

Maria Gormley from Clacton has created a display for baby loss awareness week in memory of her daughter Laura Picture...

Maria Gormley has spent more than 15 years working for Sands, the stillbirth and neonatal death charity - Credit: Charlotte Bond

Maria, from Clacton, did not even get to touch or hold her baby daughter Laura after the unexplained death 33 years ago.

“I was 18 when I had a stillbirth and it was an awful experience,” said Maria, who had been booked in for a scan when she experienced no movement or kicking from her baby for 24 hours.

“Back then it was swept under the carpet and Laura was whisked away without me being allowed to hold her.


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"All I have to remember her is a Polaroid photo.”

She said she was "devastated" by Laura's death - but has since gone on to help other grieving parents.

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She has spent more than 15 years working for Sands, the stillbirth and neonatal death charity.

Maria Gormley from Clacton has created a display for baby loss awareness week in memory of her daughter Laura Picture...

Maria Gormley held a similar display at Clacton's Memorial Garden last year - Credit: Charlotte Bond

And now Maria, who went on to have a second daughter named Danielle, is preparing to line Clacton seafront with hundreds of ribbons to raise awareness of pregnancy and baby loss.

Maria Gormley from Clacton has created a display for baby loss awareness week in memory of her daughter Laura Picture...

Ribbons in memory of stillborn children will line Clacton seafront - Credit: Charlotte Bond

The town's Memorial Garden will sport white, pink and blue ribbons with baby names inscribed onto the railing, in memory of all those children lost too soon.

Residents have also included knitted and crocheted teddy bears to include in the display, which will take place as part of Baby Loss Awareness Week between Saturday, October 9 and Friday, October 15.

“We hope that our ribbon display will help to spark conversation about baby loss, as well as provide local bereaved parents and families a chance to remember and talk about their precious babies,” said Maria, who has already raised £988 on her JustGiving page.

More than 60 businesses have also pledged their support by sponsoring teddies.

Maria held a similar event along Clacton seafront last year.

Maria Gormley from Clacton has created a display for baby loss awareness week in memory of her daughter Laura Picture...

The ribbons made for a magnificent sight at Clacton's Memorial Garden last year - Credit: Charlotte Bond

Clea Harmer, chief executive of Sands, said: “Baby Loss Awareness Week is a unique opportunity for parents, grandparents, siblings and wider family and friends to come together and remember their babies who have died, however long ago.

“For anyone whose baby has died, however recent or long ago, the world is changed forever, and there is no simple answer to grief.

"Finding ways to cope and look after yourself or your partner is different for everyone.

“I hope that Maria’s remembrance ribbon display will help start more conversations about pregnancy and baby loss, and by doing so help bereaved parents and families feel more able to talk about their babies and find ways to look after themselves and others.”

Maria Gormley from Clacton has created a display for baby loss awareness week in memory of her daughter Laura Picture...

Each of the ribbons and teddies marks a stillborn child - Credit: Charlotte Bond

For more information or to sponsor a teddy, email Maria Gormley or donate at her JustGiving page.

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