A MEMORIAL tree for grieving families hit by the Mortonhall Crematorium scandal could be erected by February – thanks to a major donation.
Hair and beauty salon owner Dian Ward has given almost £15,000 to pay for installing a Tree of Tranquillity in the grounds.
The commemorative sculpture would be moulded from copper and other metals, with affected parents each allocated a leaf to record details of their deceased child.
Mrs Ward said: “Any parents that I’ve spoken to love the idea of the tree.”
She buried her stillborn son, Thomas, five years ago at Mortonhall Crematorium. She said the experience had left her wanting to help those left reeling at not being told their baby’s ashes had been buried at the facility without their knowledge.
The Corstophine mother-of-two was 22 weeks’ pregnant when she was diagnosed with lupus anticoagulant – a condition that leads to an abnormally high risk of blood clotting and contributes to miscarriage.
She said: “I was told that I wouldn’t have any ashes from Mortonhall, I would have nothing.
“At that time, in your frame of mind, you don’t want to walk away with someone saying ‘there will be nothing’. It’s a word that sticks in your mind. So I chose to have him buried. They gave me the choice.”
Mrs Ward, whose donation comes to £14,776, has a leaf inscribed with Thomas’ name at a separate memorial tree erected at Saughton Winter Gardens.
She wants her money to go towards building a replica at Mortonhall, saying it had helped with her own grieving process.
“With everything they’ve been through, I thought it would be nice to have some form of something really positive,” she added. “It’s horrendous what these parents are going through.
“I think the council should ask the parents because if you’ve lost a child and if there’s something that can make it slightly better, then you would want to do it.”
Mrs Ward raised the funds by running the Real Life ball at the Corn Exchange on September 8.
Dorothy Maitland, operations manager of bereavement charity support group Sands Lothians, said donations would be better spent on counselling.
She said: “We’re not near deciding on that [a memorial] yet. People have just been issued with letters today from the council. I am actually going to be hand delivering some of them.
“The people that I have spoken to are very, very angry with Mortonhall.”
Donna Hanley, co-founder of bereavement charity SiMBA, appealed to affected parents to contact the organisation and tell them the best location for the seven-foot memorial tree.
She said: “It’s something for parents that, if that’s what they want, that’s what we’ll do for them.”
Ms Hanley said SiMBA still needed to negotiate with Edinburgh City Council over the matter, adding: “We’ve got to obviously have permission to have a tree placed at Mortonhall and we need to put the tree in a place where it’s safe that’s not prone to vandalism.”
Council environment convener Councillor Lesley Hinds said: “Many interesting ideas have been put forward regarding a permanent memorial and we hope to consult widely with the public on the various suggestions in the new year.
“This will take place after the findings from the council’s initial investigation are made public next month.”
A petition calling for the Scottish Parliament to hold an inquiry into Mortonhall’s practices had grown to more than 2600 signatures late yesterday.