Success for Linda’s bid to have communal baby grave at Ramsgate recognised with plaque

Linda will now see this area where her brother and other little ones are buried marked with a memorial plaque

For Ramsgate resident Linda Henderson the ‘wildflower’ area in Ramsgate cemetery holds a special significance.

It is the area where her brother was buried after arriving stillborn in February 1952. Parents Rosa and Charles Adkins placed a notice in the paper to mark his birth and thank the nurse, doctors, family and friends for their care. But the area where Baby Adkins is buried is not marked and is the resting place of scores of stillborn and young babies interred between 1911 and last year.

Red Cross shop volunteer Linda has been trying for the past year to get the area marked with a plaque to acknowledge all the little ones that have been laid to rest without a plot and memorial stone.

The 65-year-old said: “My mum had a stillborn baby in the 1950s and she never forgot him. I located the area of his grave and planted some bulbs but they didn’t come up. I have been up there a lot lately and think there should be something there for the babies – I do not know how many there are – in this communal plot.

“I think something should be in place to mark the spot for the babies who would not have been registered or had a funeral. At the moment there is nothing there, just grass, and I’d like a plaque that can be there and last for years. I’m not going to be around forever to look after it.”

Mum-of-one Linda says one other person has made contact about their sister who is also buried in the communal plot and she knows there must be many more parents or siblings who would like to see the communal plot acknowledged with a plaque.

She added: “It’s not just for me, my brother is not the only baby there.”

Burials and cremations

Babies who are stillborn after 24 weeks of pregnancy – this was 28 weeks until 1992 – or die during infancy, must be buried or cremated. Cemeteries and crematoria are required to keep records of all such burials and cremations.

Babies who are stillborn before 24 weeks (or 28 weeks pre-1992) can have a funeral, although this is not a legal requirement.

According to the charity Sands (Stillbirth and Neonatal Death charity): “Sadly, if your baby was born before 1992 and before 28 completed weeks of pregnancy, there will probably be no record of burial or cremation.”

The charity says it was only in the mid-1980s that parents of stillborn babies and babies who died shortly after birth began to be consulted about funeral arrangements.  Before then, hospitals often took care of funeral arrangements, without the involvement of parents.  Babies were sometimes buried in shared graves and many parents were not told what happened to their baby’s body.

Memorial plaque

Linda is now delighted to find out that after The Isle of Thanet News contacted Thanet council, there are plans being put in place to formally recognise the babies. The former Sainsbury’s garage worker says cemetery workers have now also located the exact spot her brother is buried in, which is not quite where she had originally thought and is actually a separate plot, and a personal memorial will also mark this area.

A Thanet council spokesperson said: “An area of Ramsgate Cemetery, now planted as a wildflower meadow, was dedicated to stillborn and young babies until 2023, with records dating back to 1911.

“The total number of burials is not known and the individual plots are not marked. The council is now planning to install a memorial plaque to formally recognise the site.

“In 2023, a new area of the cemetery was set aside for babies and children up to the age of 14. It is a tranquil area, protected by a semi-circle of trees. Thanet District Council grants parents the burial rights for plots in this area, supported by the Children’s Funeral Fund. Parents can mark the grave with their choice of headstone and kerb surround.

“Families can also request a memorial plaque to be installed on a wall at the back of the area.”

Certificate scheme for loss of babies before 24 weeks

Following new government rules last month parents who experience the devastation of losing a baby before 24 weeks of pregnancy can now apply for a certificate to have their grief recognised.

The government launched a voluntary scheme to allow parents to record and receive a certificate to provide recognition of their loss.

The certificates are not compulsory – it remains the choice of all parents to manage the difficult time of a loss, however they see fit.

The certificate is available for either parent to access following a loss under 24 weeks since 1 September 2018. Applicants must be at least 16 years of age and have been living in England at the time of the loss.

The certificate is an official but not legal document.

The government is looking to expand eligibility for certificates pre-dating September 2018 as soon as possible.

Request a baby loss certificate

For advice on tracing a baby’s grave or cremation click here

For support find Sands at: