Butterfly Release at Lews Castle to help support bereaved families

Pictured are Susan Simpson, Joanne Murray-Stewart and Members of the SiMBA Support Group Releasing butterflies for the families who could not attend.
Pictured are Susan Simpson, Joanne Murray-Stewart and Members of the SiMBA Support Group Releasing butterflies for the families who could not attend.

Island families bereaved through the death of a baby gathered together at the weekend for the third annual SiMBA Butterfly Release at Lews Castle, Stornoway.

SiMBA (Simpson’s Memory Box Appeal) was founded in 2005 and the charity supports anyone who has endured the loss of a baby during pregnancy or close to the time of birth.

One of the Painted Lady Butterflies being released. They are bred by an award winning entomologist in sterile conditions and do not interfere with native species as they are  migratory.

One of the Painted Lady Butterflies being released. They are bred by an award winning entomologist in sterile conditions and do not interfere with native species as they are migratory.

Through the trained volunteers on the Isle of Lewis SiMBA has been reaching out to families since 2012.

The charity donate Memory Boxes, each one made up by a volunteer, to help families to gather everlasting memories of their most precious time spent together with their baby.

The organisation currently donates the Memory Boxes to 261 hospital units across the UK and Ireland and to date have donated over 21,000 Boxes since 2005. In the Western Isles 66 families have been gifted Memory Boxes.

The charity refurbishes Family Rooms within hospitals, giving families a peaceful homely place to spend time with their baby.

SiMBA also installs Memorial Trees of Tranquillity.

These memorial trees provide comfort for both the newly bereaved and for those who may have lost their baby many years ago some who never saw or held them or knew where their baby’s final resting place was.

Adding a leaf onto the Tree of Tranquillity shows families that they are not alone in their loss while visiting a tree provides a place to reflect.

SiMBA host free advanced bereavement and palliative care study days (in conjunction with CHAS) for health care professionals and students.

To date they have trained over 335 attendees including 20 health care professionals in Stornoway last year.

SiMBA offers monthly bereavement support groups run by volunteers across Scotland, on-line support and family friendly awareness events throughout the year.

The Stornoway support group meets in The Caladh Inn, 11 James Street, Stornoway on the first Tuesday of every month between 7pm-9pm.

There are 10 Butterfly releases taking place this year across Scotland and 1 in England, every one unique.

These wonderful family friendly, non-denominational, poignant services last around 30 minutes.

The volunteer support group facilitator in Stornoway, Joanne Murray-Stewart, hosted the butterfly release along with our Highland Ambassador Susan Simpson.

Joanne and Susan know first hand the immense comfort that is afforded families as the come together to release a butterfly in memory of the child they sorely miss.

Sara Fitzsimmons, MBE, RM, CEO of SiMBA, added: “When a baby dies there can be a huge feeling of isolation, our Butterfly Releases encourage families to come together in a gentle event, knowing that they are surrounded by others who understand their grief.

“Adding a leaf to our handcrafted Trees of Tranquillity show families that they are not alone. SiMBA is here to offer on-going support to our families and I would encourage anyone affected by the loss of a baby to visit our website www.simbacharity.org.ukfor full details of all our services.”