Article in Blacktown Sun newspaper

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Volunteer for Angel Gowns For Australian Babies Inc

Angelic work: Melinda Parker and Natalie Wilkins with angel gowns to be donated to Angel Gowns — For Australian Babies Inc. Picture: Geoff Jones
Angelic work: Melinda Parker and Natalie Wilkins with angel gowns to be donated to Angel Gowns — For Australian Babies Inc. Picture: Geoff Jones

Years ago, Melinda Parker was excited about becoming a mother for the first time. But then tragedy struck — her son died in utero at 26 weeks.

“I ended up having HELLP syndrome and my high blood pressure caused his death,” the Quakers Hill resident said.

“His name was Declan Noah Parker and he looked exactly like his Dad.

“We spent three days in hospital with him in my arms the whole time — he is the drive behind my volunteer work . . . my way of ‘mothering’ I guess.”

Mrs Parker is the NSW state manager for Angel Gowns — For Australian Babies Inc, a non-profit organisation which turns wedding dresses into angel gowns for premature babies that have died.

“Hundreds of women around the country have donated their stunning wedding dresses to be transformed into angel gowns, but we are always needing more,” Mrs Parker said.

“A single wedding dress can make anywhere from 15 to 30 angel gowns for angel babies in Australian hospitals.”

Even though Mrs Parker doesn’t sew the gowns herself, she is the drive behind the distribution.

“I have about 150 wedding gowns in my lounge room that my husband trips over all the time,” she said.

“Sometimes it does get heavy and I have to switch off.

“My baby didn’t get a gown so I can disconnect; if I did think about what I’m doing all the time it would get a little depressing.

“I love doing it because it’s kind of mothering in a different way; by helping babies that women have lost.”

ACT state manager and NSW state assistant volunteer, Natalie Wilkins is a mother of three and volunteers, on average, 20 hours a week.

Mrs Wilkins, 34, lost her son, Ronin at 10.5 weeks.

“Being involved has helped me, as well as others, open up the conversation about miscarriage and child loss,” she said.

“About 200 people volunteer but there is a desperate need for more volunteer sewers and bridesmaid dresses.

“We’d appreciate any donations or people willing to volunteer, even an hour of their time.”

To volunteer or donate: angelgowns.org.au/helpers or info@angelgowns.org.au.

Read the article here: Tragedy led to Angel Baby Gowns (December 1, 2015)

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