Ribbon tree planted as living memorial

Karen Hancox of Sands (left) and MP Victoria Prentis plan the ribbon tree in Peoples Park, Banbury. NNL-161017-110558001

Karen Hancox of Sands (left) and MP Victoria Prentis plan the ribbon tree in Peoples Park, Banbury. NNL-161017-110558001

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A ribbon tree has been planted in Banbury’s People’s Park as a living memorial to commemorate neonatal and post natal deaths.

The tree, a silver birch donated by Nicholson’s Nurseries, will mark babies who died and grieving parents will be able to hang ribbons from the tree in memory of them.

The planting was organised by the Save the Horton Action Group and supported by Banbury Town Council, Oxfordshire Sands and Banbury and Bicester MP Victoria Prentis. It also coincided with Lost Baby Awareness Week.

Mrs Prentis said: “It has been very moving to plant a tree in memory of lost babies.

“The tree will be a focal point where families can remember the babies they lost.

“Around one in four pregnancies miscarry, and many more families are touched by stillbirth or neonatal deaths.”

Mrs Prentis, who herself has suffered the loss of a baby, has been a long-time campaigner for maternal safety and is vice-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Baby Loss.

Last week during parliamentary duties the MP asked the Prime Minister if she shared her sadness that the majority of Banbury’s babies would no longer be born in the Horton General Hospital following the downgrade to its services.

The following day, October 13, Mrs Prentis took part in a Backbench Business Debate on Baby Loss, debating how to reduce baby loss in the UK and provide better care for parents.

Mrs Prentis said: “Baby Loss Awareness Week is such an important occasion.

“I really hope that we can continue to break the silence on this often under-reported issue, and I thank all of those who were brave enough to tell their stories this week.

“It was an honour to stand beside my colleagues and to represent the many constituents who share my very real fear over the changes to our much-loved and essential maternity unit at the Horton General Hospital.”

“I can only hope that sharing my own experience will make a difference, and go some way towards making sure that none of my constituents will have to go through what I did.”

Karen Hancox, from Sands and who helped with the tree planting said: “Many parents affected by pregnancy loss do not have a place to visit where they can remember their babies.

“Hanging a ribbon on the memorial tree will be a very special moment for them, and it will be a place they can return to time and time again.”