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Rendham couple’s tragic story inspires Ipswich Hospital to pilot counselling service for bereaved parents

PUBLISHED: 10:45 08 September 2017 | UPDATED: 10:45 08 September 2017

The launch of Petals counselling sessions at Ipswich Hosptial. Picture: PETALS

The launch of Petals counselling sessions at Ipswich Hosptial. Picture: PETALS


Families struggling with the loss of a baby will now be able to get specialised support from Ipswich Hospital.

James and Emma Strachan at the inquest of Bonnie's death in 2015. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNJames and Emma Strachan at the inquest of Bonnie's death in 2015. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

The national charity Petals has been allocated funds to run counselling sessions from the Heath Road site on a pilot basis.

Ipswich Hospital chief executive Nick Hulme gave the project the go-ahead after hearing Rendham couple Emma and James Strachan’s story.

The pair had to travel to Cambridge and back several times to receive counselling with the charity after their daughter Bonnie died during birth in 2015.

Emma said: “Talking to our Petals counsellor allowed us to process our loss and begin the natural grieving process, something we had subconsciously put on hold as we were in shock and utter disbelief, not knowing which way to turn to deal with losing Bonnie.

“We were gently guided in talking about our experience and gradually we began to see the benefits of expressing our thoughts and feelings. We began to accept our tragic loss and with that we were able to cherish our love for Bonnie and allow her memory to grow.

“I think direct access to Petals at Ipswich Hospital is invaluable, knowing that the right person is there to help when parents are ready fulfils the missing link and this will hugely facilitate the journey for families in rebuilding their lives after baby loss.”

Ipswich Hospital bereavement midwife Ali Brett has welcomed the move.

She said: “It is widely recognised that bereavement counselling is an invaluable necessity after the loss of a loved one and until now, there wasn’t a dedicated baby loss counselling service in the local area. Petals will be an extra asset to the bereavement service currently offered.”

The Ipswich Hospital Charity has offered to fund the pilot, which will see two trained Petals counsellors delivering support from the site.

Karen Burgess, chief executive of Petals, said: “We are delighted to be able to bring our sought-after counselling service to Ipswich Hospital – many couples like Emma and James are making the long journey to Cambridge which indicates the desperation of parents needing emotional guidance following the loss of a pregnancy or the death of a baby.”

Ipswich Hospital is one of 12 NHS trusts nationally to pilot a counselling service for bereaved parents, according to Petals.

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