Dexter's Garden - a place for families to reflect and remember

Date published: 09 October 2018

A special new baby memorial garden is set to be launched in the grounds of the Royal Oldham Hospital, and families are being invited to come along and celebrate the launch of this special place on the hospital site.

Dexter’s Garden will be officially launched on Monday (October 15), 12noon – 2pm, in grounds near to the Diabetes Centre on Westhulme Avenue.

Dexter’s Garden is a special baby memorial garden set up for all bereaved families as a quiet space for families to pause, reflect and remember the children they have sadly lost.

Families are being invited to bring along their own memorial planter to add to the garden to make it extra special.

The launch of the garden coincides with Baby Loss Memorial Week (October 9-15), which aims to raise awareness about the key issues affecting those who have experienced pregnancy or baby loss in the UK.

Throughout the week bereaved parents, their families and friends, will unite with others across the world to commemorate the lives of babies who died during pregnancy, at or soon after birth and in infancy.

Oldham Council will be showing their support for this important awareness week by lighting up the Oldham Civic Centre in blue and pink throughout the week.

The Royal Oldham Hospital will also be following suit and lighting up hospital signage.

For families unable to attend the daytime launch of Dexter’s Garden, there will also be a special ‘Wave of Light’ ceremony hosted at 6.30pm by the hospital in Dexter’s Garden, in line with the national ‘Wave of Light’ ceremony hosted by Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Society (SANDS) each year.

Families will be invited to create a ‘Wave of Light’ by lighting candles in memory of the babies they have loved and lost.

Dexter’s Garden is the brainchild of Katie Bowker, a Midwife in the Maternity Department at the Royal Oldham Hospital.

The project is a personal one, which is very close to Katie’s heart, and a tribute to her son Dexter, who passed away shortly after birth in November 2016.

Katie said: “The idea behind Dexter’s Garden is to provide a special place for families who have lost a baby at any stage of pregnancy and after birth.

"I want to provide a safe, quiet place for families where they can reflect, mourn and pay tribute to their angel babies – a place that is calm, serene and beautiful.

"I hope that families will help treasure Dexter’s Garden by leaving their own memorial planter.” 

An army of volunteers including Midwives from the maternity unit and staff from B&Q in Oldham have volunteered their time at weekends in September to get Dexter’s Garden ready to launch.

B&Q have also kindly donated lots of items for the garden and discounted many others.

Katie is now hoping that families will actively get involved in helping to make the memorial garden a special place on site and put their own stamp on things by bringing a memorial planter for the garden.

There are plans afoot to involve North Chadderton High School with the project, by arranging for students to provide artwork for display in the garden.

Katie also hopes to set up a donor recognition scheme that will allow families to buy a plaque that will be displayed in the garden to remember their loved ones. 

The Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Society (SANDS) offers support for families who have faced stillbirth or neo-natal deaths.

They can be contacted on 020 7436 5881 or online at

Anyone wishing to attend the launch of Dexter’s Garden or the evening ‘Wave of Light’ ceremony is invited to just come along.

There is no need to book a place.

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