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‘Dear Mum’ garden at Western Cemetery wins gold at national awards

An owl character in the ‘Dear Mum' story explains how writing a letter can help.

A cemetery garden in Cardiff, telling the story of a young mouse called Dorawho wishes she could tell her mother how much she misses her, has won a gold ‘Bereaved Community Award’ at the annual Cemetery of the Year awards.

The prestigious award ceremony also saw Thornhill Cemetery receive a silver award in the ‘Large Burial Ground’ category.

Designed tohelp young children cope with the loss of a loved one and provide a place of remembrance for parents who have lost a baby, the unique garden at Western Cemetery in the Ely area of the city, is the first of its kind the UK.

Dora, the main character in the ‘Dear Mum’ story.

Cabinet Member with responsibility for Bereavement Services, Cllr Dan De’Ath, said: “Our ‘Dear Mum’ garden at Western Cemetery is a really special space where children, and parents who have lost a baby, can go to reflect and explore their emotions.

“A garden like this, on this scale, has never been done before in the UK, and I’m pleased that its value to the community, along with the work being done at Thornhill Cemetery, has been recognised with these awards.”

Once children cross the bridge into Little Wiggle, the village Dora calls home, they can explore her story, meet her friends and fellow villagers, and just like Dora – who sends a letter to her mother as an outlet for her feelings – write their own letter, before posting it in a special owl post box.

Activities such as going on a bee hunt, taking ‘rubbings’, or enjoying the skipping lanes, are built into the garden and are designed to provide children with moments of respite, if the feelings raised by the garden become too much.

Speaking about the Bereaved Community Award, Philip Potts of the Memorial Awareness Board whichpromotes and organises the Cemetery of the Year Awards,said:‘There are many enterprising Cemeteries that are willing to make a special effort to help bereaved families and this category was designed to showcase some of the best examples and hopefully inspire other Burial Authorities.”

Western Cemetery and Thornhill Cemetery were also awarded Green Flags earlier this year. It was the first time Western Cemetery had achieved the coveted international accolade, which recognise the quality of parks and green spaces.