Sue Allison was devastated by the stillbirth of her baby daughter in 1978. She was 40 plus weeks pregnant and was not prepared for such a tragedy. As the weeks and months past she desperately needed to speak to someone who had been through a similar experience. She advertised in a local newspaper for anyone who had had a similar experience to call her.
This was the founding of Edinburgh SANDS later to become SANDS Lothians. Sue and a few mums met up and saw how useful it was to talk and share each others experiences. They set up a small committee and did various fundraising events to put some money in the bank. They did not have regular meetings but spoke a lot on the telephone. The main project at that time was to provide moses baskets to the hospitals. Edinburgh SANDS were keen that newly bereaved parents should see their baby in a moses basket. This proved to be a wonderful idea and bereaved parents really appreciate them.
When Jane Rose whose baby boy David died after being born prematurely took over in the late 80’s she decided to introduce monthly befriending meetings. This was to be a huge success. Jane also did a lot of home visits to bereaved parents and fundraising. She sat and made Christmas Cards for SANDS to raise funds. During her time in office monuments were unveiled at Rosebank Cemetery and at the Rose Garden in Mortonhall Cemetery. This was so comforting for parents as they now had somewhere to lay flowers in memory of their baby. Many parents did not know the resting place of their baby and they were laid to rest in common ground in various cemeteries round the city.
In 1986 Prof. Neil MacIntosh came to Edinburgh to work as Head of the Department of Child Life and Health. He was a huge influence on SANDS in Edinburgh. He involved them in speaking at medical student tutorials which were of great benefit to the students.
In 1990 Dorothy Maitland (then McKenzie) took over as Chair. One of the first things she introduced was a separate telephone line in her house so that Edinburgh SANDS could be listed in the telephone book. This was to prove to be a great asset. The meetings had to progress from members houses to a church hall as the meetings became so big. Sometimes 50 parents attended. It was a very much needed service. She also introduced memorial services throughout the year and she engaged in talks with Management at the local maternity hospital re a family room.
At this time Jeni became involved in helping with the befriending either on the telephone or home visits or in some cases visits to psychiatric hospitals where sadly a few bereaved parents had been admitted to. The profile was raised by newspaper articles, talks to Health Professionals and leaflets being sent out to various organisations.
In 1993 - 1995 there were huge changes. A SANDS Family Room was opened at the Simpson Memorial Maternity Pavilion on the ante-natal ward. This was funded by the Hospital and Edinburgh SANDS jointly. The room was like a hotel room. It gave parents the time and privacy to spend with their stillborn baby and also for close friends and family to visit. The room was a great comfort to many parents and their families. Many babies were baptised in this room too.
As the workload was becoming so much Dorothy felt that office premises would be the next step forward. We were very fortunate to rent the basement floor of the Red Cross Building in Great King Street Edinburgh for a token payment. This certainly put us on the map as a more professional organisation. We also took on Ruth as our bereavement counsellor during this time. The Red Cross eventually sold the building and we rented various offices.
We became employers and now have four part time staff, two who are bereaved parents. We also changed our name to SANDS Lothians as our parents are spread all over the Lothians. We offer many services to bereaved parents at our Craiglockhart Office where we have been happily based since August 2000.