The Borders General Hospital’s maternity unit has been given a £400 boost by a charity set up to help women come to terms with the trauma of stillbirth.
Lauder-based charity Zaagi transforms donated wedding dresses into gowns and blankets for youngsters born dead in an effort to help ease the stress and pain felt by their grieving parents.
Its founder, Kim Shaw-Walker, and volunteer Michelle Gibb handed the money over to staff at the Melrose hospital including obstetrician Brian Magowan.
That money was half of £800 raised by the charity via table-top sales of cakes, craft items and knitwear.
The other half will pay for thread and other materials used in recycling dresses.
Kim, 46, originally from the US, founded the charity in 2015, two years after giving birth to a stillborn baby girl.
She said: “As the time drew near to leave the hospital, we had one last opportunity to spend time with her.
“We wanted to dress her. It became clear to us, with very little time left, that none of the outfits we had for her would remotely fit her, and suddenly we were faced with the urgent need to find something that was appropriate.
“Speaking to a friend who worked as a counsellor, she asked if there was anything that could have been done differently, what would it be I answered ‘something to dress her in’.”
Kim researched clothing for stillborn babies and found a range of charities worldwide that transform wedding dresses to help comfort grieving parents.
She said: “When we decided on the idea of what garment it should be, it was important to consider just how special the item of clothing was in that this garment is every item of clothing the baby is going to wear. It is everything. It is the first shoes, the first.
“It therefore had to be something really special. I researched projects across the world and came across the likes of Angel Gowns in the US, among others, that were using this idea of recycling wedding garments.
“They are so special, but also the fabrics are usually the ones used for baby garments such as baby burial outfits.
“The materials are usually higher-quality fabrics and you can get a lot of material from the dresses.
Following a post by Kim on Facebook, Michelle was one of the first to respond and sent in a donated wedding dress.
Together, the pair established Zaagi, that being a native American word meaning to love and treasure, and it was granted charitable status in November 2015.
Zaagi now has 15 regular volunteers making dresses and blankets, and it is hoping to double that over the next year as it has more than 400 wedding dresses waiting to be recycled and each dress can yield about a dozen baby garments.
Kim added: “We want to have gowns in as many hospitals as possible, so that parents don’t have to deal with that one more horrible thing.”
Dr Macgowan said: “All money donated is used to enhance patient care and can often fund the simple things that can make a big difference.”
Donations can be made to the charity at www.facebook.com/zaagiUK