Mortonhall baby ashes memorial design unveiled

The Mortonhall memorial garden. Picture: Comp
The Mortonhall memorial garden. Picture: Comp
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A SECLUDED circular walled garden with a water feature has been chosen as the memorial for infants at the heart of the Mortonhall baby ashes scandal.

And it was announced a second memorial will be built in Princes Street Gardens, as council chiefs unveiled the design of the main site following consultation with affected families.

The garden in the grounds of Mortonhall crematorium is expected to be completed by November this year.

Parents were asked to choose between four different designs for the memorial. The walled circular water garden emerged as the favourite, though the pond originally proposed will be replaced with a stone water feature because of safety fears.

A second memorial was proposed in recognition of the fact some parents wish never to go back to Mortonhall. Details of the design and precise site in Princes Street Gardens are yet to be agreed.

The Evening News revealed in December 2011 that for years parents of children who were stillborn or died soon after birth had been told there were no ashes left after the infants’ cremation, when in fact their babies’ remains were buried or ashes scattered in the grounds of Mortonhall without their knowledge.

The new garden is described as “an enclosed circular space providing parents with a private and peaceful place for personal contemplation”. It will feature beech hedges, birch trees, a stone ball water feature, rocks, pathway, seating and be located within easy reach of the main chapel.

Council chief executive, Sue Bruce, said: “I am pleased that we now have a design identified. This was a difficult process for everyone involved but it was important to hear the views of all affected parents and reflect their wishes.

“The walled water feature garden will provide a tranquil area for reflection. I’d like to acknowledge my appreciation of the feedback from parents in choosing such a fitting memorial.”

Nicola Welsh, chief executive of bereavement charity Sands Lothian, pictured above, praised the council’s efforts and said the garden would be a special place.

She said: “Since taking over running the charity in January, I have attended all the Mortonhall working party meetings and have been very impressed with the level of care and attention given to try and get the memorials right. The online surveys have given everyone a voice on the designs.

“There have been many debates and conversations regarding the designs and how best to meet the needs of those affected. We are aware that we can’t get it right for everyone but I think the design for Mortonhall looks lovely and the designer has been keen to take everyone’s ideas into account.

“I hope this area will bring comfort to those affected and their extended families in the future. It will be a special and lasting memorial.”

ian.swanson@edinburghnews.com