A grieving Blackpool mum has said that the council ‘should be ashamed of themselves’ after requesting more than £250 to light up the tower in memory of her son.
Afton Greatrex lost her son Alfyn on Friday September 10, when he was “born sleeping” at 24 weeks and six days.
The grieving mother and her friend had hoped to see the Blackpool Tower lit up on October 15 for the global ‘Wave of Light’ – when people light a candle at 7pm for a minimum of an hour in memory of a loved one.
Afton follows baby loss awareness pages on Twitter and Facebook and had called out to friends and family for a contact for Blackpool Tower.
One of Afton’s friends got back to her and told Afton she would contact the council on her behalf.
The council reportedly responded the Afton’s friend’s enquiry confirming that there was availability on October 15 to fulfil their request, with the private booking fee chargeable at £500.
In emails seen by LancsLive, the council wrote: “A charge of £250 would be applied to a booking of this nature and does represent a 50% discount over a private booking and will contribute to the upkeep and maintenance of the Tower Lights.”
“I was just devastated,” Afton said, “I think I was shocked, with all the emotions and everything, it was the fact they used to do it for free, apparently, that made it even worse.”
“I understand they have an electricity bill and that kind of thing, I really appreciate that but for something that’s so important.”
Afton said she could not understand why the authority couldn’t show their support of baby loss after having lit up the tower “throughout the year.”
Had the council agreed to showcase the lights, Afton said: “It would have been support from my home town, me and my husband are Blackpool born and raised. It doesn’t make my loss any easier, but it provides us with some kind of support.”
Afton has kept herself “distracted” since the loss of her son by looking to Baby Loss Awareness groups and charities like 4Louis and the Baby Loss Awareness Campaign.
After the council’s response, Afton has decided instead to put the money towards the charity 4Louis who provided them with a memory box in hospital. The box included an imprint kit, a candle, an angel and a teddy.
Afton said: “They also provide hospitals with cool cots, so our babies can stay with us for however long we like and camera’s etc. They are a non profit organisation and rely on donations.”
The Global Wave of Light takes place at 7pm on October 15 on International Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day.
Families that take part will light a candle and leave it burning for at least one hour to join the global event and remember the children they have lost.
This year, families are also invited to take part in a digital Wave of Light on Facebook and Twitter using the hashtag #WaveOfLight at 7pm local time.
Since speaking to LancsLive, Blackpool Council has agreed to light up the tower free of charge.
A spokesperson for the authority said: ““In most circumstances, we are obliged to make a charge because of the cost of reprogramming the lighting although we do allow a significant number of national and local charities to promote awareness at a reduced rate or, in some instances, free of charge on key dates over the course of the year.
“During October, the lighting is programmed to be part of the illuminations and projection shows but given the sensitivity we have agreed that we will turn the lighting pink and blue for a period of time on October 15 to mark Baby Loss Awareness Month.”