Hope lives for Streaky Bay memorial garden proposal

MEMORIAL GARDEN PROPOSAL: Nyssa Bell at the site she hopes is turned into a memorial garden, the old tennis courts on Montgomerie Terrace. Picture: Luca Cetta
MEMORIAL GARDEN PROPOSAL: Nyssa Bell at the site she hopes is turned into a memorial garden, the old tennis courts on Montgomerie Terrace. Picture: Luca Cetta

Struck by a personal tragedy, Streaky Bay resident Nyssa Bell is hoping for the creation of a memorial garden to honour those who have died at a young age.

She presented a report outlining the proposal to the Streaky Bay District Council for a garden at one of four locations, the old tennis courts on Montgomerie Terrace, at Blanchport Estate Reserve on the corner of Anastasia Avenue and AB Smith Road, Moore’s Bicycle Path and Lions Park, with the tennis courts the preferred option.

The council agreed at its November meeting to “support the concept of a memorial garden in principle”.

It has been seeking out options for the tennis courts land, which neighbours the old bowls club.

“They could have shut it down but didn’t so we are on the right track, but it is still at an early stage,” Mrs Bell said.

“They said there are co-sharing opportunities for a men’s shed, a memorial garden and perhaps a child centre and it would be a good thing to use that piece of land which has nothing on it now and is in a good spot.”

The idea for a memorial garden came about after Mrs Bell’s daughter Lucy was stillborn at 36 weeks in June 2016.

“The midwife I had in Ceduna was amazing and she told me about where she had worked in New Zealand where the community came up with the idea of a memorial forest as a way of helping the healing process,” she said.

“It’s an amazing idea to help people heal and there are lots of steps to go through, but it comes from wanting to honour Lucy.

“A lot of people in our little town have lost children in utero or children who have died before their time, they can’t celebrate things with them and this can be a place where they are acknowledged, celebrated and recognised.”

She said the cemetery was not an inviting space, however a garden could be a calm and peaceful place to reflect which would provide opportunities for conversations between grieving families and help to start the healing process.

“The idea is to sit in a quiet, lovely area and honour a child by planting a tree or something similar,” Mrs Bell said.

“I still go to the cemetery, but it is not a nice place to take kids to visit the child which has passed.”

Six councillors voted in favour of supporting the idea in principle, with further discussions to be held on the specifics of the proposal.

An issue which would have to be overcome is the tennis court land is zoned for recreational use.

Mrs Bell said the tennis courts idea came after speaking to some people, and being a central location in town and one with provisions for water would help make for a more sustainable venture.

An issue which would have to be overcome is the land is zoned for recreational use.

The council also moved that it would place an amended sportsground community land management plan out for public consultation with the addition of “community garden” to the other development or activities that may be carried out on the land.

Mrs Bell said as discussions continue with the council they could look in-depth about how the garden’s design and the day-to-day operations of the space.

“There are the beginnings of designs, but even if I might want it to look a certain way it may not end up like that and it could be based on community consultation or anything else,” she said.

“Rushing it would have no purpose, we want it to be well done.

“It hasn’t been nailed on how it would be exactly run.”