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A garden to remember a little flower

21 April 2015

There can be nothing more painful than losing a child, but Kerry and Ivan Mornington were determined to channel their grief into creating a lasting memorial to their daughter Violet, and helping other bereaved parents in the process. This is their story…

We were just a normal family; life was busy, but good. My husband Ivan and I had teenage twins, Molly and Caitlin, and Violet who was coming up to her 5th birthday. She was the baby of the family and the centre of everything.

Violet

But just seven weeks after her 5th birthday my beautiful, funny, clever and strong-willed little girl took her last breath in our arms. We spent four weeks in hospital while they tried to find out what was wrong with her. Just one week before she died, they told us Violet had Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and HLH (Hemophagocytic Lymphohystiocytosis). I remember us all holding hands vowing to fight this together but a week later we were given the devastating news that Violet wasn’t going to recover. We had to make the heart-breaking decision to turn off the machines that were keeping her alive, and let her go.

No-one can imagine the pain losing a child brings. It was like the light had gone out of our lives forever and I had no idea how I was going to get through the next hour, let alone the rest of my life without her. I felt isolated and alone; Ivan and I lost each other for a while because we were grieving so differently.

A few months later we found some strength to start thinking about a memorial for Violet. We wanted to find a garden that was dedicated to children who have passed away and thought other bereaved parents must feel the same. I remember saying to Ivan: “It looks like we’ll have to build one ourselves doesn’t it?”, and that’s when the idea was born. We approached the manager of Lichfield and District Crematorium to see if we could build something there and were overwhelmed when he wholeheartedly supported the idea.

Violets-in-Bloom-2

Violet with her dad Ivan.

Now for the hard work; we had to raise the money for the garden so our charity, Violets in Bloom, was set up on 8th April 2014. Any doubts about whether the garden would be welcomed by the community were soon quashed. We put on some amazing events and introduced our very own merchandise, including a superhero doll called Ultra Vi. Ivan has written a charity song and Violet’s uncle has written a children’s book called ‘Be Brave’.

We applied to the Big Lottery Fund and were overjoyed when it was approved. We have now reached our target and are just waiting for the final garden design to arrive so we can get the work started. It’s due to open in August 2015 and I can only imagine how I’m going to feel on the day we cut the ribbon to open ‘Violet’s Garden’.

Once the garden is open we want to keep moving forward. When Violet was in hospital we were surrounded by support 24 hours a day, but when she died we were suddenly flung out into the real world and it was so frightening. We want to bridge that gap and open a centre to provide a wide range of support services to bereaved parents, children and families, with rooms for drop in sessions, counselling, alternative therapies and creative sessions to help people express their grief. It’s an ambitious project I know, but we have come so far in just 12 months and I truly believe we can do this.

To find out more about Violet’s Garden, visit www.violetsinbloom.org

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