Grieving parents have welcomed a lasting memorial for stillborn babies whose ashes were scattered without their knowledge.
Five families in Falkirk now have a special place in Dollar Park where they can go to remember the children they lost with a bronze Peter Pan statue – symbolising the child who never grew up.
Great Ormond Street Hospital, which was gifted the copyright to the fictional Peter Pan story by Scots author J.M. Barrie, donated the plaque for Falkirk memorial which features the names of five stillborn children – Greig Hoggan (2/2/1993); Craig Miller (4/6/1997); Leah Buchanan (13/10/2003); Riece Smith (25/4/2005); and Thomas John Tuck (7/2/2010). The parents were told by authorities that there would be no ashes after they chose cremation following the devastating deaths of the babies, however, it was later exposed that ashes had been buried in a communal area at Falkirk Crematorium.
The practices were brought to light in 2012 following the national scandal which showed hundreds of families were given the same information at other crematoriums, most notably in Edinburgh and Aberdeen.
A report into the issue by Dame Elish Angiolini published last year found that “confusing and inaccurate messages” from the NHS and funeral directors were to blame for the “avoidable” heartache of parents in the Falkirk district.
The Falkirk cases involved children who had been cremated at Camelon between 1993 and 2005, which were referred to the investigation and related to nonviable foetuses – babies who had died aged under 24 weeks old. The report stated: “In three cases the crematorium was given instructions which were contrary to the parents’ wishes. These instructions were provided by NHS staff or the funeral directors under the mistaken understanding there would be no ashes.
“Furthermore, the families had to wait years to find out the truth. This has caused considerable avoidable heartache to those concerned.”
Part of the recommendations in the report was that local authorities had to provide a memorial area – such as the Dollar Park one – for families.
Angela Smith and husband Tommy found out in 2013 that their son Riece’s ashes had been buried at the crematorium in Camelon after he was stillborn in 2005 after 18 weeks of pregnancy and welcomed the memorial.
Mother-of-five Angela (38), who works as a community co-ordinator, said: “This was one of the recommendations from the Dame Elish report and Falkirk Council has been really good in dealing with this.
“Wraight Sheppard arranged to get the plaque from Great Ormond Street and permission from Swindon Council to copy the statue. It is situated in a perfect spot, it is really nice and quiet and I’m really happy with it.”
A council spokesman said: “The statue is an appropriate and touching reminder for families of their sad and tragic losses. We have spoken with affected families throughout and helped financially towards the cost of the installation. We hope that anyone who visits will appreciate its significance and meaning.” Mrs Smith and Jacqueline Miller, whose son Craig was stillborn at 21 weeks on June 4, 1997 at Falkirk Royal Infirmary both criticised Dame Elish’s National Cremation Investigation saying it did not go “far enough” in seeking the truth in their cases, or give them closure.
Mrs Smith is also currently locked in a legal battle with Falkirk Council and claims her signature was forged on Riece’s cremation form.