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Vandals rip leaves off baby bereavement tree in Ipswich’s Holywells Park with families left devastated

PUBLISHED: 13:57 11 May 2017 | UPDATED: 15:07 11 May 2017

Parents heartbroken by 'mindless vandalism' of baby bereavement tree in Hollywells Park. Left to right, Ali Brett, Laura Houlden, Annie Oliver, Holly Brewin, Michelle Austin. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Parents heartbroken by 'mindless vandalism' of baby bereavement tree in Hollywells Park. Left to right, Ali Brett, Laura Houlden, Annie Oliver, Holly Brewin, Michelle Austin. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Heartbroken parents affected by baby loss in Ipswich say they are horrified after vandals damaged a memory tree in Holywells Park.

Precious leaves with the name and date of birth of babies engraved on them have been ripped off the Tree of Remembrance, made of brass and metal, in the Magic Garden.

Looked after by the Ipswich Hospital Baby Bereavement Group, the tree is a special place for families to come and remember babies and children who have died during pregnancy, childbirth or after birth.

The hospital’s bereavement midwife Ali Brett, part of a team who runs the group, said: “We are deeply saddened by this mindless vandalism.

“It is just devastating that someone could even think of doing this to the tree.

Parents heartbroken by 'mindless vandalism' of baby bereavement tree in Hollywells Park. Picture: GREGG BROWNParents heartbroken by 'mindless vandalism' of baby bereavement tree in Hollywells Park. Picture: GREGG BROWN

“It is a place where families gather to remember the babies they have lost. 
She added: “What distresses me the most really is that there is no sensitivity at all to the pain that the families are going through.”

Families affected by the vandalism are being supported by Ali and her team.

There are 72 leaves in total and four were damaged in late April and early May – police and park wardens have been informed and are investigating.

Holly Brewin, from Ipswich, lost her daughter Ruby in 2015.

She said: “I am horrified. It happened last year to my daughter’s leaf.

“Laura and Ali from the baby bereavement group were really great when I reported it to them last year.

“They replaced the leaf within a few weeks, looked through the cameras, reported it to the park warden and the police.”

Ali and her team are now urging grieving parents who visit the park to be extra vigilant around the tree area.

Informing parents of the damage, they said: “We understand that some of you may already be aware that there has been some deeply upsetting damage to the Tree of Remembrance.

“Several of the precious leaves have been broken off the tree.

“The families involved are aware and obviously very distressed about the news. 
“The leaves are in the process of being replaced and plans are being made as to how we can further protect the tree from this happening again.”

Helen Pluck is Ipswich Borough Council’s chief operating officer.

She said: “We are appalled by this sickening act of vandalism we will ensure that our parks patrol team keeps a close look out in that area.

“We also urge visitors to the park to report any suspicious behaviour immediately – either to staff at the visitor centre or to the parks patrol hotline on 01473 432132.”

Call police on 101 quoting reference number 34382/17 with information.


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