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Helping hands for a final resting place

From left, former midwife Katie Williams, leader of the Rotorua Coffin Club with fellow coffin club member Jo-Anne La Grouw and one of their coffins.

Do you know someone that can help?

Do you know of an enthusiastic and caring group of local Waikato people who can use their skills to help some families in their time of need?

Waikato Hospital Women’s Assessment Unit charge midwife manager Rachael Kingsbury and clinical midwife specialist Tracey Williams are looking for someone or a group who can make and decorate baby coffins to give to their bereaved families.

We need someone with a little time available to help support a really valuable service. You might be a handy-man or carpenters /painters/someone who can sew the linings/someone who likes to decorate.

They have worked hard to bring together the networks that provide the necessary but unobtrusive support that a bereaved family requires to get through their grief during those first days after the death of their baby. They now have in place tangible memory resources for families to access, including SANDS boxes that have practical items family can use and refer to during and after the birth, beautiful photography, hand and foot castings, huggable hearts (special hearts made to exactly match the weight of the baby for families to cuddle after) and all of this is made possible by generous donations and volunteers.

What they don’t have are suitable coffins that they could give to the parents for their babies.  They only have cardboard boxes until Tracey came across the generous group of dedicated people called the Rotorua Coffin Club.

The Rotorua Coffin Club work with the local SANDS group to provide Lakes District Health Board with baby coffins for their bereaved families.  This is at no cost to the DHB and an offer of koha from the family if they can.

Tracey has been able to purchase some of these beautiful handcrafted coffins for our families. However, the Rotorua Coffin Club is committed to their area and would like to encourage a Waikato group to take up this most rewarding task of making these coffins for our Waikato babies and their families. They are willing to help a group to set up and show them how they make them.

Members of the Rotorua Coffin Club, Katie Williams and Jo-Anne La Grouw delivered some more coffins to Tracy and Rachel last week.

Katie explained that the demand for these little coffins grew out of need and her experience as a midwife.

“Most of the carpenters are in their eighties. They also make coffins for adults,” said Katie.

“The decorating is their strong reason for making them, they have lots of fun creating a special coffin to suit a certain individual.”

Most of the materials for the coffins are donated. The wood is donated from a place in Hamilton and there’s a small team of carpenters who cut them out of the wood and put them together. They have a painter who paints and decorates them and someone else who sews a beautiful soft lining and mattress. Complete with a small soft toy in the casket each coffin is individualised and made with love and care for the bereaved families.

If anyone is interested or knows of someone who could help us please contact: news@waikatodhb.health.nz

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