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An elephant in the park to remember the tragic babies of Mortonhall

Parent Dorothy Maitland and Sculptor Andy Scott with the Mortonhall baby elephant sculpture at the official unveiling ceremony for parents on Saturday morning in Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh. (Stewart Atwood).
Parent Dorothy Maitland and Sculptor Andy Scott with the Mortonhall baby elephant sculpture at the official unveiling ceremony for parents on Saturday morning in Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh. (Stewart Atwood).

A MEMORIAL to the children of the Mortonhall baby ashes scandal was unveiled in Edinburgh’s Princes Street Gardens yesterday.

The bronze baby elephant sculpture was designed by Andy Scott, who created the Kelpies.

A plaque features small footprints and forget me not flowers. It bears the words: “In memory of our precious babies, gone but never forgotten”.

It will be a permanent reminder of the 250 babies and their families affected by the scandal.

Parents were told after the cremation of their babies that there were no ashes, but it emerged in 2012 that remains were secretly buried in the garden of remembrance at Mortonhall Crematorium.

The memorial was unveiled in Princes Street Gardens by Lord Provost Fran Ross in front of 150 parents, family members and friends.

Dorothy Maitland, a former manager of the charity Sands Lothians, which counsels parents who have lost a child through a stillbirth or neonatal death, lost a baby and was directly affected herself by the practices at the crematorium. She has been central to the Mortonhall investigation and memorial.

Ms Maitland said: “It’s beautiful.

“Anyone who has lost a baby will find enormous comfort from visiting here.

“There were two choices, a rocking horse and elephant. If I’m honest I did vote for the rocking horse. But now I’ve seen the elephant I think it is perfect.”

Sculptor Andy Scott said: “I wanted to do something that would capture the imagination. It was quite a daunting thing to take on because of the emotions and the terrible loss the parents had suffered.

“I hope the parents respond well to it.”

The practice of secretly burying babies’ remains at Mortonhall had been going on for four decades, until a change of management at the crematorium in 2011.

A subsequent enquiry into the cremation of babies recommended new laws and guidelines to protect bereaved families.