Clutching photographs of their children as they waited for the official ceremony to begin, it was a day of mixed emotions for the many ‘angel parents’ as they gathered at the site of the Angel of Hope Memorial Garden.
It was painful for them as they remembered their children, but those emotions turned to joy as they popped champagne corks just as Andrea pushed her foot on top of the spade to lift the first sod on the garden.
Mayor of Causeway Coast and Glens, councillor Michelle Knight McQUillan, a mother of two, praised the ‘focus and drive’ of those invovled in the project.
“This has been a long time coming for Andrea and her team,” said the Mayor.
“Their vision and focus has now been realised. What they have achieved today will be a source of comfort for many in the Borough.”
Cllr Knight McQuillan went on: “As I thought about this event this morniing, I realised the importance the garden will be to our community.
“You can visit a graveyard, but they can be quite morbid places, and I know that many of these parents feel this.
“Children love trees and being outdoors, this garden will be the perfect place for those who have lost children to come and remember.”
DUP MLA Adrian McQuillan added: “This day has been a long time coming for the committee.
“I would like to praise Andrea and the committee for the drive they have shown. It’s been a long hard road for them, but they are a credit to this area.
“This site is perfect for what they have planned, and I would like to thank Council for their input.”
Committee chairperson, Heather Pollock said: “This is a very memorial and sad day for Andrea today.
“There’s been a lot of fundraising and we thank everyone who has been involved in anyway.
“But, what people may not realise is that there has been a lot legal work behind the scenes too. It’s been tough, but thankfully that’s all come to fruition, and we hope the garden will be completed by September.”