By Jessica Howard
Robyn Lavery is one of hundreds of volunteers who convert old wedding dresses into tiny gowns for babies who die from infant illness.
The Bacchus Marsh resident is the Western Region Coordinator of Angel Gowns Australia – a nation-wide charity that creates handcrafted garments for bereaved families who have suffered a stillbirth or death of their baby.
The charity was founded in March 2014 and has since grown to have more than 360 dedicated volunteers.
Ms Lavery has been involved in the not-for-profit program for two-years.
“A lot of people have experienced a loss themselves or a loss within their family, and a lot of the time they don’t have anything to dress their little angel baby in,” she said.
The precious garments are sewn from deconstructed wedding dresses and supplied to local hospitals and funeral homes including Bacchus Marsh Hospital and Michael Crawford Funerals in Bacchus Marsh.
While thousands of wedding dresses have been donated over the years, Angel Gowns Australia is open to postal wedding dress collection during the month of October.
Ms Lavery said the postal collection is run in conjunction with Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month.
She said donations are posted to Sydney for processing and distributed to volunteer seamstresses. Donations must be white, ivory, cream and champagne coloured wedding dresses.
“We have sewing days once every three months, however everyone also sews in their own home.
“We are always looking for new volunteers and there are no deadlines. We do not expect you to sew 100 gowns, it is about quality not quantity and it doesn’t matter if you only sew one gown per year”.
Those interested in becoming volunteer seamstresses will be sent a test pattern and required to supply three samples of work before being accepted.
Ms Lavery said the organisation was also looking for volunteer promoters and organisers.
“You don’t have to be a seamstress to be involved,” she said.
Angel Gowns Australia volunteers handcraft micro-premature gowns, gowns for full-term babies and wraps. Personalised gowns can also be made on request.
A display of Angel Gowns is located in the Lerderderg Library in Bacchus Marsh until November.
For those interested in volunteering, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on Angel Gowns Australia, including where and how to donate a wedding dress, visit http://angelgownsaustralia.org.au.