Fire tragedy family’s legacy will live on at new Norwich hospital chapel garden

The new chapel garden at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. The garden is in the memory of

The new chapel garden at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. The garden is in the memory of Stephen Kirby and his son Alexander, who died in a fire in France. - Credit: (c) M.Robinson Photography - 2013

The legacy of a city father and son who died in a holiday tragedy is to live on – with the creation of a new Chapel Garden at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.

The beautiful garden at the Colney hospital has been created in the memory of Stephen Kirby, 48, and his five-year-old son Alexander, who died in a tent fire in France in 1994.

Following the tragedy, Mr Kirby's widow Kim spearheaded a fundraising campaign to create the UK's first skin bank.

Backed by the Eastern Daily Press, our readers helped raise hundreds of thousands of pounds and the Stephen Kirby Skin Bank opened in 1996 at Queen Mary's Hospital in Roehampton.

It saved the lives of countless burns victims who were treated at the hospital, which specialised in treating burns.


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But the skin bank closed down after a reorganisation of the hospital and the services were transferred to the NHS Blood and Transplant Service.

Following discussion with the Charity Commission the remaining funds from the skin bank were moved back to Norfolk. where much of the money had been raised.

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Kim Brighouse and her husband Nick decided to donate the fund to create the chapel garden in memory of Mr Kirby and Alexander. Mrs Brighouse and her daughter Ellie opened the garden earlier this week.

Eleanor Langan, lead chaplain at the N&N, said: 'This beautiful garden provides us with an extension to the chapel. It is a quiet, tranquil place in the heart of the hospital where patients, visitors and staff can spend time reflecting and may find strength, hope and peace.'

The design, build and opening of the Chapel Garden was organised by the Hospital Arts Project and designed by local company Plan to Garden. The design features a Wish Tree, several curved oak seating areas and a water rill weaving around the garden in a figure of eight.

Emma Jarvis, hospital arts co-ordinator, said: 'The focal point of the garden is a large Wish Tree sculpture surrounded by the words Faith, Hope and Love.

'The water rill symbolises eternal life and circles the garden which is planted in restful colours.

'There were so many people who contributed to the garden and the result of their work is truly stunning.'

In tomorrow's paper we talk to Kim Brighouse about her family's remarkable legacy.

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