Mum overwhelmed by support for 'angel gowns' project
- Credit: EMMA TILEY
A Soham mum-of-two's charity project has led to 300 "much-needed" gowns being made during lockdown for babies who have passed away.
Following the loss of her daughter Rosie in 2014, Emma Tiley set up Rosie's Angel Gowns in 2019 to make gowns from preloved wedding dresses for babies who have died before, during or shortly after birth.
"When I gave birth to Rosie, still born at 28 weeks, I was in utter shock and sick with sepsis," Emma said.
"I couldn’t think straight and it all seemed like a terrible nightmare," she added, remembering that she wasn’t offered any clothes for Rosie.
"I saw her wrapped in a hospital blanket with a knitted hat and I was in such denial that I didn’t properly look at her. It’s my biggest regret.
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"I didn’t study her tiny features or dress her. Luckily, I did agree to them taking some photos of Rosie for a memory box."
Soon after, Emma met a lady who works at Addenbrooke's Hospital's paediatric mortuary and she assured her that all babies are dressed before they leave their care.
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She added that they are, however, always in need of garments.
"This is what made me start the project," Emma said. We have donated to the Rosie Delivery Ward at Addenbrooke's so that parents can take some comfort from our garments in such a difficult time."
During lockdown, Emma says she has been "overwhelmed" with wedding dress donations and support from skilled sewers.
"We have processed over 12 wedding dresses in the last 12 months and made over 300 garments for babies."
One of the experienced seamstress to have helped out is Jitka Flack, who "kindly dedicated so much of her time during lockdown to the project whilst homeschooling her children."
Jitka, who lives in Wilburton and has her own wedding dress shop, has also created a series of tutorials for less experienced sewers to follow so more people can get involved in the project.
"She cuts and prepares the wedding gowns and creates template packs for the volunteers to sew and return to me," said Emma.
Having been sending the gowns to the pediatric mortuary at Addenbrooke's Hospital, Emma says the team there have been really grateful - especially as the delivery ward stopped taking donations during the pandemic.
"It's my understanding that they have been much-needed, she added."
Knowing that not every baby is born at the same size or gestation, Emma expanded the project to make small blankets and little pockets to lay the babies in.
"I want to thank everyone who has supported this project during lockdown, but also ask anyone who would like to donate or volunteer to sew for us to please get in touch."
You can contact Emma via the Rosie's Angel Gowns Facebook group.