Tiny coffins made with love
Posted at 11:40am Tuesday 14 Jul, 2020
The painful experience of losing two babies, both in the first trimester of pregnancy, made Joy and Murray Webb determined to help others.
“At such a traumatic time, parents are faced with purchasing a coffin, which can cost around $500,” Joy says. “They've just set up things at home and purchased things for the baby and, for many, a nice coffin can be unaffordable, adding extra stress.”
Five years ago, Joy and Murray started a charitable group that builds, decorates and donates baby coffins to North Shore and Waitakere hospitals. The coffins come in four sizes and are made available to grieving parents free of charge.
Murray, who is used to building work, makes the solid wooden boxes and the couple sand and paint them. Other volunteers then make the interior lining and decorate the lids with artwork.
One volunteer who has been with the organisation since its early days is Lorraine Sanders of Orewa.
Lorraine is a retired curtain maker who makes the mattresses by hand, using the wadding from inside old duvets donated by friends. The mattresses are made of beautiful fabric such as satin – sometimes from donated wedding dresses.
Lorraine says she got involved with the Waitakere Baby Coffin Club because she had always wanted to be part of creating her own coffin.
“She came around to our place and we measured her up,” Joy says.
Lorraine's coffin, made by Murray, now sits in pride of place in her bedroom, covered with cushions so that it looks like a window seat. She made her own lining and is decorating her coffin with her life history, including memories from her 25 years as a Girl Guide volunteer.
A couple of years ago, the group provided North Shore Hospital with 115 coffins and were told that more were needed.
Joy says they are trying to produce around 100 a year, but it takes at least a week to make one from start to finish. Quality is very important, as well as attention to detail.
“We put a lot of love in every one,” Joy says.
Currently, the work is shared between nine members who are scattered around the Rodney, Hibiscus Coast and Waitakere regions. Mitre 10 New Lynn donates the wood but more sponsors are welcome.
“The demand is great and we need more members, particularly skilled chippies,” Joy says.
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