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Carly and Martin’s story

A personal sadness and a vision transforms family bereavement

When Carly Williams’ and Martin Sommerville’s first child, Zephyr, was stillborn at Nottingham City Hospital, they felt the midwives and staff surrounded them with care and compassion. But when they needed to return to the hospital’s maternity area as part of follow-up meetings they felt it was the very last place they wanted to go, echoing with painful memories.

Four years later and following the birth of their second son, Sol, their dream to provide a new facility for bereaved parents is now a reality and is called Zephyr’s.

Spurred on by the need to provide a place away from the maternity areas for parents who had lost a child, Martin and Carly came to speak to Nottingham Hospitals Charity about what could be done to help other families in future.  As Carly said: “We wanted to help create a better place for families and staff to come together within safe surroundings; to find strength, feel held through hard times, to talk openly about our children and grief, and be in the company of others who understand.”

Working with the Charity, the Zephyr’s Appeal was set up in order to provide a separate family bereavement centre.  Opened in 2017 the new Zephyr’s Centre is now a reality and offers a contrast to the maternity wards setting.  Based away from clinical buildings it offers a warm home-like feeling, with rooms for peer support, counselling, therapeutic activities, training and talking- an antidote to the overwhelming isolation sadness after loss.


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