A woman is offering grieving parents a unique way to say goodbye to their beloved babies – by transforming beautiful wedding dresses into burial outfits.
Mandy Shippey, 40, has set up not-for-profit organisation Too Beautiful for Earth with her friend Amanda Ibbotson, 37.
Mandy has been inundated with donations so far – receiving 30 wedding dresses and material and buttons to make waistcoats for little boys.
Mandy, who first saw the project in America, said: “I properly started the project about a month ago and have had such as amazing response.
“We have had 30 wedding dresses donated so far and a lot of local businesses have helped us with material, buttons and blue cotton for waistcoats for little boys.
“While the tragic youngsters are buried in the beautiful outfits, we also make a keepsake handkerchief out of the same material for the parents so they have something to have.”
A licensed scrap collector in her day job, Mandy sews the outfits in her spare time and buys extra material herself that she can’t get from donations.
She said: “Imagine the devastation of losing your baby. For me, taking the time out of my life to create something that may be able to help ease the pain is no trouble at all.”
Amanda, who works on getting the donations, agreed, saying: “The whole idea is that when you lose a child, it must be the most difficult part of your life.”
“If we can offer even the slightest bit of comfort for the family to help with the grieving process, then we have done our job.
“It is such an emotional time and the last thing you want to be doing is shopping for a gown to bury your baby.”
Mandy, of Bridlington, East Yorks., has been in touch with local hospitals in the area including Scarborough and York Trust and Leeds General Infirmary.
She said: “At the moment I have just spoken to the hospitals who have said that they are very interested in what we are doing.
“The idea is to make enough outfits so the hospitals can have a large amount and be able to give them out to families as and when they need to.
“We don’t want to leave a hospital short.”
“So far we’ve made 32 outfits but I want to be able to give hospitals more than that so we’re just working on getting about 80 together.
“We will deliver the outfits to the bereavement teams who will then pass them on to the families.”
Mandy added: “At first it was really hard sitting down to make an outfit knowing it was for a baby that has died. But I know how important it is for parents to have their child buried in something nice.
“I’m making a shawl for a mum who is is pregnant but who lost a little baby previously.
“She told me that her biggest regret was that her baby had not been dressed properly when buried.
“I know that this will help so many families through a difficult time.”
Mandy and Amanda are now keen to recruit anyone with spare time on their hands.
Amanda, who works part-time as a shop assistant at Premier, said: “We would be grateful for anyone who could spare time to help and knows their way around a sewing machine.
“It is for such a fantastic cause and the more people we have participating, the more people we can help through a heartbreaking time.”
For more information visit www.facebook.com/2beautifulforearth or call 07752208936 or 07456971055.