A POIGNANT memorial service to bring comfort to bereaved families affected by the loss of a baby or child is being organised by Bradford hospital staff.

The ‘Shared Memories Service’ has been arranged with the aim of helping parents overcome their grief.

It will take place at the Listening for Life Centre, Bradford Royal Infirmary, on Saturday, December 2 at 11am.

It is a multi-faith service open to all and which will allow a quiet space to remember and reflect.

It is based around the much-loved children’s story, ‘The Snowman’ by Raymond Briggs and will also feature appropriate music and poems, and has been funded by Bradford Hospitals Charity to enable the provision of food, refreshments, craft materials and balloons and tags for the balloon release.

Church of England and Free Church Chaplain Rev Joe Fielder, part of the Foundation Trust’s multi-faith chaplaincy team, said: “We know that the journey of grief can be slow and painful, and that the experience of loss can be wide – from early miscarriage to the death of a baby or a child. But we also think that it can be helpful and supportive to gather and to remember with others, who have shared a similar heartache.

“Families will be able to talk to each other before and after the memorial event, and that support is as much a key part as the service itself.

“We welcome individuals, couples or families. We especially cater for siblings and will have a separate children’s programme for children aged two to 12 in an adjacent room. Their journey of grief also needs support.

"The event will be run by a number of different staff from across maternity, paediatrics and chaplaincy.

"Members of staff whom parents and families may have met during their visits to hospital will be on hand to offer support or to just simply say ‘hello’.”

Mr Fielder added that people were being encouraged to bring along any photographs or mementos of their child which would be placed on a special memory table.

Head of Chaplaincy Mohammed Arshad said: “Parents who have attended previous services have commented on how helpful and caring it has been to see the familiar faces of staff who cared for them and their children.”

Muslim Chaplain, Maryam Riaz said: “The service gives parents and the wider family – siblings, grandparents, aunts and uncles, as well as close family friends – the chance to share feelings and grieve together as they remember their babies and children, in a supportive environment."

The service will end with a balloon release as a way of marking respect and love for those who have died.

Families who have lost children or babies at the Trust’s hospitals in the past 24 months have been sent invitations to attend but anyone else who thinks they would benefit from the occasion is welcome to attend.

The event will last no more than 45 minutes plus time for refreshments. For further details, contact the Chaplaincy team on 01274 365819 or email dawn.arnison@bthft.nhs.uk