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Report of the Infant Cremation Commission

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Section 12

Memorials

12.1 Throughout the period of activity, the Commission were acutely aware of the pain suffered by those either left in a state of uncertainty, or who had been misled regarding the fate of their child's ashes. Not only were their hopes and expectation for the future with their babies dashed by their loss, but their distress and despair were also compounded by the mishandling of their remains.

12.2 Their experiences, relayed in the form of written submissions or in conversations with Lord Bonomy, highlighted that for some a further cause of distress was the lack of a place, with more peaceful and positive associations, to which they could go to remember their child.

12.3 This was discussed at more than one Commission meeting, with members eventually accepting that the very personal nature of this meant that it would be difficult to prescribe any particular type of memorial or stipulate where it should be located. There are also constraints as to where permanent memorials can be located, often with associated costs and permission requirements, that were beyond the scope of the Commission's work.

12.4 Regardless of this, the Commission were keen to explore what was already available in Scotland and, from this, what further options could be discussed or recommended.

12.5 Of the 27 crematoria in Scotland, 15 confirmed to the Commission that they already had an area within or alongside their statutory Gardens of Remembrance, dedicated specifically to the memory of babies and infants. Another 2 crematoria advised that they would have such an area from 2015. This is commendable, but given the events leading up to these enquiries, it is likely that dedicated areas within, or associated with, particular crematoria would not always be appropriate, from the perspective of the families affected by these events.

12.6 The Commission therefore requested broader information on memorial services, and markers dedicated to children, which already existed in Scotland. The information obtained is available at Annex R. This encompasses annual and other memorial services, books of remembrance, sculptures, plaques and other such permanent markers, as well as the previously mentioned areas set aside by the crematoria.

12.7 On reviewing and discussing this information, the Commission agreed that, whilst additional local memorials may be appropriate, it would be for the relevant local authorities / councils to consider this in partnership with other interested parties, including parents who may wish to be involved. It is therefore the Commission's recommendation that, where affected parents wish, local authorities should facilitate discussion of plans for local memorials.

12.8 Additionally, the Commission agreed that consideration should be given to a simple, tasteful, national memorial dedicated to the memory of the babies whose ashes were mishandled or mismanaged, which would serve as a place of remembrance for the families affected. The Commission recommend that the Scottish Government forms a short life working group, to include representatives of affected parents and bereavement support groups, to consider the possible type and location of a discrete national memorial.

12.9 The Commission also noted that the national group Good Life, Good Death, Good Grief, which campaigns for a more open attitude to matters relating to death and dying in Scotland, was promoting a time of remembering across Scotland when individuals, families and groups were being encouraged to remember their loved ones who have died. The Commission consider that it might be appropriate for the Scottish Government to include within that commemoration an element recognising the loss of those babies who have been the subject of the Commission's work.