Snowdrop back from brink

Grieving parents  outside the Snowdrop Centre, Central drive, Blackpool, offices.
Grieving parents outside the Snowdrop Centre, Central drive, Blackpool, offices.
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A lifeline service supporting Blackpool’s grieving parents has been given an 11th hour reprieve.

The Snowdrop Centre, a bereavement support service, was at risk of closing after its main supporter announced funding would run out in September, and bereavement nurse Michelle Boland was told to wind down her clients.

But after a meeting on Monday, it has been announced funding has been provided, and will include a review of the service and how it can be continued in the future.

The Gazette followed the plight of parents and supporters who mounted a fight to save the centre, who have today hailed the last gasp reprieve a victory.

Len Curtis, who helped set up the Snowdrop Centre 12 years ago through his charity Donna’s Dreamhouse, said he believed the funding would last six months for the review to be carried out.

He said: “We are very, very pleased.

“Although this is a short reprieve, it means families that have been left in limbo will now be able to complete their support programme and will be working very closely with the review team to see how we can progress the service.

“The families we have spoken to are delighted.

“It is not the news of a full time position that we wanted, but at least we are not having to wind the service down.”

But a spokesman for the NHS trust suggested the funding could last a lot longer than six months.

The spokesman said: “We will continue to fund the role of the Paediatric Bereavement Support Nurse for the foreseeable future.”

The Snowdrop Centre, which has offices on Central Drive, was awarded two years of funding by the Blue Skies Hospitals Fund – the charity which supports Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

Last month, Blue Skies announced the funding would not continue after the two years, which is due to run out in September.

‘You never get over losing a child’

The grieving parents of children who have died today spoke of their relief after hearing the Snowdrop Centre is to receive further funding.

Linda Jones, whose son Matthew took his own life three years ago when he was 17, described the funding boost as “absolutely brilliant”.

Mrs Jones, 60 of Norbreck, said: “Tragically and sadly children are going to continue to die, and this is a life saver for parents, helping them to relearn how to function.

“You never get over losing a child, but the Snowdrop Centre helps you to carry on.”

Carol Gaffney, of Collingwood Avenue, Layton, lost her daughter, Hayley McArthur, when she died in her sleep from positional asphyxia in 2004.

She said: “This is good news. Hopefully it can become permanent to help new bereaved families and those who need long-term support.

“This has been a very difficult time for us.”

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