Cherished Gowns UK was founded in September 2014 when our Founder created a gown for a local bereaved Mother from her Wedding Dress. She shared this gown with her Midwife who was very keen for us to offer our gown packs to their hospital. We worked hard to develop our patterns and established 5 sizes of gowns, 3 sizes of nappies and co-coordinating knitted and crochet items to create a perfect outfit for each size. We made it our mission to make our service not only completely free of charge but available to every Hospital, parent and funeral director in the UK.
By April 2015 we had recruited 400 volunteers around the country and had supplied 75 hospitals with our service. We had a steady supply of Wedding dresses being donated and our volunteer seamstresses worked quickly through them. The media began to take notice of the charity and newspapers ran stories on our project. At one point one of our Facebook posts was shared over 1 million times and every UK newspaper ran a story on our special charity. We received over 20,000 emails in just 24hrs and 10,000 people joined our waiting list to donate a dress overnight.
As a result of all of the media attention we had some significant financial donations and this allowed us to rent a small office to store our items, and recruit volunteers to help despatch these items. This space allowed us to grow our charity, and in February 2016 we achieved our first big goal; To supply every UK hospital with our service. Since then we have continued to grow and moved in to a larger office and secured contracts giving us low cost postage of our hospitals boxes, and we successfully achieved full Charity status with Charity Commission on the 7th April 2017.
We are truly honoured to have received many Awards for our work including a Butterfly Award for Most Media Impact, a People of Dover Community Award for Voluntary work, a Turley Community Award and Darcey’s Dream Most Supportive Bereavement Service.
Our Founder, Megan McKay was also the recipient of the Prime Ministers Point of Light Award. In a personal letter to Megan, Prime Minister Theresa May said:
“The clothing you provide for stillborn babies is providing comfort to grieving parents across the country. It is moving to hear how your compassion has inspired so many others to volunteer for the charity, ensuring even more families receive this support at such a devastating time in their lives.”
We now have a dedicated team of 1,100 volunteers that work to create our precious items, and to date have transformed over 28,000 wedding dresses and donated more than 1.5 million items.