The Coleraine mother behind the Angel of Hope Memorial Garden has told The Times this week that she is ‘thrilled’ that work is set to begin on the project.
Andrea McAleese lost her little daughter Roma after she was knocked down and killed near her home at Ashdale Park in Coleraine back in March 2009.
Roma was just three.
Andrea believes that the garden, located at the entrance of Cloonavin, will offer ‘angel parents’ a quiet place to reflect, and the chance to meet others who have lost children in similar circumstances.
Andrea first floated the idea on Facebook back in November 2013.
At that time over 2,000 people had supported her proposal within the first 24 hours.
Steven Todd, an architect from Coleraine, who now lives in Melbourne, was so moved by Andrea’s idea, that he designed the garden free of charge from his Australian home.
His design includes afountain of life, individual brass stars fixed on a wall which will be inscribed with each missed child, angel sculptures that are designed to rotate in the wind, making the garden kinetic and introducing the sense of wonder children so unselfishly share.
In December 2014, Andrea and her hard working committee gained Coleraine Borough Council’s support for the project, and the lease of a piece of land at the entrance of Council’s Headquarters at Cloonavin.
Speaking this week, Memorial Garden Chairman, Mark Pollock and Richard Moore, Building Design Consultant with Moore Design in Coleraine revealled the exciting plans for the garden.
Richard said that the plans, drawn up using Steven Todd’s designs, were now being put through the planning system.
Mark revealed that the signing of the lease for the land was ‘imminent’ and then the work would go out for tendering soon.
“We’re aiming for a May start date,” told Mark.
“Our solicitors are currently looking at the draft lease from Council, so we have a few legal items to tie up and then we are ready to go.
“We are hoping to use as many local suppliers and builders as we can - this a project for the community, so we feel it is important that we keep it as a local as we can.
“We hope that by the end of the summer the garden will be in place.”
Mark went on: “If any of the local building merchants feel they can offer help, in any way, we would be happy to hear from them.”
Andrea was thrilled at seeing the plans on paper for the first time.
“It’s all starting to feel real now.
“This has been a long process, but we are nearly there.
“For so long we have been in limbo waiting for things to happen, and now we are seeing some progress.
“We have raised £50,000 to date, with fundraisers still taking place, and we feel that this should be enough to get the garden built, but there will be maintenance, water and electric costs, so that’s something we will have to think about.
“I can’t wait to see the work started to that people can see where their money is going.”
Andrea revealed that she had been contacted by ‘angel mums’ who lost children twenty to thirty years ago.
“This project has really reached out to people, I am really staggered by the amount of people that have been in contact with me over the past two years.
“I spoke to a woman who lost a child thirty years ago - I just feel that by coming together we angel parents can help each other.”