RELATIVES of those who have sadly lost a loved one can now celebrate and remember their lives by funding an engraved leaf on the Rotherham Hospital and Community Charity’s new memory tree.
The copper tree is located in the Snowdrop memorial garden at Rotherham Hospital with the first gold leaf dedicated to Tommy McKeiver’s wife Mary. Tommy, 83, of Boardman Avenue, Rawmarsh, sadly lost his wife of 56 years in August 2019 after she suffered a brief illness.
Tommy and his family were able to spend Mary’s final few hours in the charity-funded Purple Butterfly room on Ward A2. To commemorate the anniversary of her death, Tommy has donated £500 to the charity’s Purple Butterfly Appeal every year and pledged to be the first memory tree donor.
Tommy’s granddaughter, Katie McKeiver, a Healthcare Support Worker at The Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust, said:
“Since nannan passed away the charity has felt really important to me, my grandad and my sisters. It’s lovely that grandad remembers nannan every year on the anniversary of her death by donating to the charity and to have a leaf of the new memory tree is just lovely.
“We’re so proud that she is the first. It’s nice to come to the Snowdrop garden, to see her name up there and to remember how much she is still loved. Losing nannan was heart-breaking but sponsoring a leaf feels like a positive thing to do in her memory.”
A leaf has also been added in memory of 61-year-old Sandra Farthing, who started her career at the Trust as a student nurse and went on to become a midwife for 42 years. She sadly passed away in January 2021. Her leaf was requested by her friends and colleagues in Maternity Services and is dedicated to a ‘calm, kind, gentle and phenomenal midwife.’
The Snowdrop memorial garden was funded by a generous £11,557 donation from the national baby loss charity 4Louis in 2020. A leaf has also been proudly added to the tree for Louis Knight, who passed away in 2009 and inspired his family to set up the charity to support other families through the loss of a baby or child.
The memorial garden project was spearheaded by midwives Shahida Mehrban and Hayley Lea who aspired to provide a tranquil, relaxing space for parents who have sadly lost a baby. However, the garden is open for all colleagues, patients, families and members of the community who need it.
Fundraisers have since raised money to fund a host of daffodil and tulip bulbs to ensure it looks blooming marvellous in Spring.
The memory tree has been funded thanks to fundraisers Emily Wilkinson, who completed the ‘Margot Marches to Millions’ challenge with her daughter Margot and her family in 2020 in memory of her mother Carolyn Joy Linkens.
Trust midwife Sarah Neal also took part in a Captain Tom 100 challenge last year in memory of Sir Captain Tom Moore, walking 100 laps of Rotherham Hospital, to raise funds.
The tree has the capacity to commemorate the lives of 250 people, with each leaf-shaped plaque costing £100. The leaves will remain on the tree for a minimum of three years. After that period, donors will be offered the chance to donate again to keep their leaf on the tree. Alternatively, the leaf can be sent to the donor as a keepsake.
Suzanne Rutter, Charity Engagement and Development Manager, said:
“We are really proud of our Snowdrop memorial garden and the new memory tree is a poignant addition, which we hope will bring comfort to families during such difficult times. It offers a meaningful way for people to remember their loved ones whilst helping to raise funds for their local NHS charity. Each leaf can be dedicated to a family member or friend – to anyone whose memory you would like to treasure.”
For more information about how to receive an engraved leaf in memory of your loved one, please contact Suzanne Rutter, Charity Engagement and Development Manager, via: firstname.lastname@example.org or 01709 426821 to arrange.