Mortonhall ashes: memorial plans discussed

Plans for a permanent memorial to the hundreds of babies whose ashes were scattered in the grounds o fMortonhall  are at an early stage.Picture: Neil Hanna
Plans for a permanent memorial to the hundreds of babies whose ashes were scattered in the grounds o fMortonhall are at an early stage.Picture: Neil Hanna
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a MEMORIAL wall inscribed with names or a simple bench in a secluded spot are among the ideas being discussed for the promised memorial to the children at the centre of the Mortonhall ashes scandal.

Plans for a permanent memorial to the hundreds of babies whose ashes were scattered in the grounds of the Edinburgh crematorium without their parents’ knowledge are at an early stage.

The Evening News revealed last week that the Meadows is being considered as a possible location for the memorial, along with Bruntsfield Links and Princes Street Gardens or Mortonhall itself.

The idea of a memorial was one of the recommendations resulting from former Lord Advocate Dame Elish Angiolini’s investigation into the ashes scandal.

And a working group set up by the city council and including representatives of the affected parents is due to discuss later in the summer what they would like to see.

Today Willie Reid, chairman of the Mortonhall Ashes Action Committee, said parents were all agreed there should be some kind of memorial, but opinions varied widely on exactly what form it should take and where it should be.

He said: “There has to be something. Some people are happy to have it at Mortonhall, others are more inclined not to have it there.

“The council has agreed to put together costings and designs and then put it out to parents to canvass what they feel will be the best and most appropriate. Any and every option is still on the table.”

Mr Reid said he would personally prefer the memorial to be somewhere other than Mortonhall.

He said: “I’d like to see it somewhere that’s tranquil where parents can go and have time on their own, where it’s peaceful.

“I’d favour a small wall with the names of the babies.”

Dorothy Maitland, of bereavement support group Sands Lothian, and the woman who first uncovered the scandal, said most parents felt there had to be something at Mortonhall. “It doesn’t have to be something big – perhaps just a simple bench with a tree.

“I also suggested the rose garden was looked at and made into a nice place and possibly put a memorial there to the babies that were cremated.”

She said “something simple” at Mortonhall would be enough for her, but parents had mixed views.

“People feel the Meadows is near the old Simpsons and the Sick Kids where some of the babies died.

“Some people said maybe some kind of wall with the babies’ names, but a lot of parents don’t want the names on the memorial.

“It’s just all ideas at the moment. I don’t think anyone wants a big, huge monument.

“It’s difficult because there are so many mixed views. It’s getting the balance right.”

Environment convener Lesley Hinds acknowledged there would be different views. She said: “It will probably be quite difficult to get a consensus on what it should be and where it should go.

“But it’s going to be up to the parents to say what they want to happen.”

ian.swanson@edinburghnews.com