Please support your local NHS Charity, caring for your community

A tranquil sanctuary for grieving parents

Published: 21 August 2014

The newly refurbished Mary Delve Bereavement Suite was officially opened at Torbay Hospital recently. The suite is used by families affected by the loss of a baby during pregnancy or immediately after birth.

The renovations to the suite, which is located in the Women’s Health Unit on the hospital’s Level 5, were made possible through generous donations from the Torbay Hospital League of Friends, local organisations and also individual families and friends who have previously made use of the suite.

Torquay Lions Club and Torbay Crematorium funded two invaluable ‘cold cots’ designed to keep a baby’s body cool after its death. These cots are especially important as they allow babies to remain with their families for longer than just a few hours, meaning parents are given longer to come to terms with saying goodbye and enabling them to create precious memories.

Furniture, soft furnishings and other homely and non-clinical items for the suite were funded by Torbay Hospital League of Friends to help create a more comforting and tranquil environment for grieving families.

Philip White, Honourable Secretary, Torbay Hospital League of Friends commented: “It is only right that a bereaved family should have a safe secure and comfortable room to ease their distress and come to terms with what has happened. The league was very pleased to have been able to contribute funds to help buy some of the extras now provided”.

The suite has been further helped by donations from the hospital’s orthopaedic theatre team, individual families and donations from South Devon SANDS (Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Society) which enabled the room to be equipped with a hot drinks dispenser, mini fridge and stocked overnight toiletry bags.

Hospital staff worked in partnership with SANDS, a national organisation that funds research into still birth and supports those affected by the loss of a baby, when designing the suite to help create an environment that will serve as a sanctuary for families during their time of grief.

Linda Simmons, Torbay’s local SANDS representative said: “Losing a baby is one of the hardest, most painful experiences anyone can ever go through. Having a special bereavement room where you are shielded from the pain and distress of delivering your baby on a busy labour ward with healthy babies can make an enormous difference to that experience.

“The fact that Torbay Hospital, Torquay Lions Club and the League of Friends have committed valuable funds to the refurbishment of the Mary Delve Suite sends a really positive message to bereaved families that they and their babies matter.”

The refurbished suite was declared officially open by the newly appointed Chair of South Devon Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust Sir Richard Ibbotson, who said: “We are very fortunate at Torbay Hospital to have the Mary Delve Bereavement Suite where parents whose babies will be still born, or are unlikely to survive, can go to have their babies.

“Not every hospital has a dedicated bereavement room in the maternity department and therefore huge thanks must go to all who have helped to create this carefully thought out space. It has created a sanctuary where parents and families can be together to share their personal grief”.

The official opening was planned for June to coincide with SANDS Baby Loss Awareness Month, a month where bereaved parents can commemorate their babies’ brief lives, in the knowledge that thousands of parents elsewhere will be doing the same. The month also aims to highlight the number of babies dying in the UK so that SANDS can continue to support, research and help make improvements.

For more information please contact South Devon SANDS on 07811 412271 or by e-mail at There is also a website