Greasby woman calls on government to apologise to ‘grieving parents’

Calls have been made for the government to apologise for a practice that “left grieving parents with nowhere to visit their buried children.”

Before the 1980s, it is understood to have been common practice across the UK that when a woman had a miscarriage or a stillbirth, hospital staff would quickly take the baby away. Families were sometimes told that if they quickly had another child and didn’t see the baby, they’d get over it.

In Wirral, awareness has been raised by a campaign by Gina Jacobs and other mothers who want an apology from the government for the practice which meant they were never allowed to see their children before they were taken away from them.

They have also successfully campaigned for a memorial for those who have never been able to find their children or relatives.

In Wirral, stillborn babies were taken to cemeteries such as Landican or Frankby and buried in graves containing up to 90 children. Fathers were sometimes told to pick up the baby from the hospital in a cardboard box tied up with string and take it on the bus.

Gina was told her baby Robert was buried with another person, but this later turned out to be not true as he was buried with 62 other children over the course of a year. Families were unable to find the babies for decades, sometimes even finding they were buried in a different cemetery to where they’d been told.

During Prime Minister’s Questions on 1 May, Wirral West MP Margaret Greenwood asked Prime Minister Rishi Sunak if he would apologise on behalf of previous governments for the practice, praising work by Gina and other campaigners who have helped locate over the final resting place of over 60 babies.

Pointing to a recent award given to Mrs Jacobs, Ms Greenwood said, “Will the Prime Minister join me in congratulating on her award having brought comfort to so many parents and families and will he, on behalf of all previous governments, apologise for this former practice that left grieving parents with nowhere to visit their buried children?”

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak did not respond to the request for an apology but said, “One of the most incredible things about doing this job is meeting people like Georgina who have suffered tragedy in their lives but have then used that to campaign and inspire and bring about a better life for everyone else.

“She’s a prime example of that and deserves nothing but our praise and admiration and I’m so pleased she’s brought comfort to so many other people too.”

The House of Commons previously debated the issue in February 2020 but Gina, who lives in Greasby, has been looking to raise the issue again at a national level.

She feels an apology would give families the dignity and respect they deserve and would also like families to have the ability to officially name their stillborn relatives.

She told the LDRS, “The end goal is an apology,” adding, “We should be apologised to. They took away the memory of our babies. We have got no memory of our babies’ faces. They knew for a fact those babies weren’t going to be buried with somebody buried that day. It was an outrageous lie.”

She said, “Imagine now being told to pick up your baby in a box and get on the bus,” adding, “A lot of people have passed away otherwise there would be a lot more people who would be asking where their babies are.”

Image: Gina Jacobs and Mayor Jerry Williams with a plaque thanking cemetery staff for their support and assistance over the last 18 months. Credit: Ed Barnes

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