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Heart-breaking experience for family shows need for bereavement facility in King's Lynn




Coming to terms with the loss of their child after experiencing only five days of life has been challenging for a Holme Hale family.

Joshua Howlett was born in April 2015, after 30 weeks and four days’ gestation at Lynn’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

He was subsequently transferred to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, where scans showed he had bleeds on both sides of his brain and there was no normal brain activity. This was caused by lack of oxygen to the brain.

The family of Joshua Howlett who died at the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital in 2015. Picture: SUBMITTED
The family of Joshua Howlett who died at the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital in 2015. Picture: SUBMITTED

His mother Rebekah described the time as heart-breaking, from receiving the devastating news on Wednesday to baptising him on the Thursday, through to holding him for the first time on Friday morning, as he died in his parents’ arms.

She said: “From Josh’s birth on the Monday to his death on Friday, I think we were really in shock the whole time.

“Although completely devastated, it took us a long time to process what had happened. EACH (East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices) has helped us on our journey.”

Joshua Howlett sadly died at Norfolk & Norwich University Hospital. Picture: SUBMITTED
Joshua Howlett sadly died at Norfolk & Norwich University Hospital. Picture: SUBMITTED

The Queen Elizabeth Hospital is currently fundraising for a new Maternity Bereavement Suite to provide a more comfortable environment for families to create precious memories of their child.

This facility, which will support families like the Howletts, was voted the Lynn News Charity of the Year by readers. A fundraising target of £185,000 has been set for the suite to be built.

The hospital has stressed that a new suite is vital for parents in a soundproof, non-clinical environment separated from the Waterlily Birth Centre where mothers are birthing.

Charity of the Year 2020 - Queen Elizabeth Hospital Maternity Bereavement Suite logo
Charity of the Year 2020 - Queen Elizabeth Hospital Maternity Bereavement Suite logo

Mrs Howlett received support through phone calls from EACH every two weeks to start with as the anniversary of Josh’s birthday and death came around.

She would usually talk this through in her support group, but said: “Being able to talk on the phone has given me the support I’ve needed. I think I have more anxiety as a bereaved parent, but the calls make me feel more confident as a parent.”

On the Thursday, the day before Josh died, the hospital suggested the couple speak to EACH, which they were both hesitant about to start with.

Mrs Howlett said: “We couldn’t really understand why. After all, they couldn’t stop Josh from dying, so what was the point? We were told they could help with a memory box, so initially this was all we wanted.”

EACH ensured the family received further memory items such as handprints on a plant pot, footprints on a canvas and hand and foot casts, without which Rebekah would never have discovered Josh had the same wonky toe as hers.

Such memories would also be created through the QEH Maternity Bereavement Suite. To donate visit www.justgiving.com/campaign/QEHMaternityBereavementSuite.



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