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Alder Centre - Bereavement Care Services

alder_centre_webThe Alder Centre is a unique, national centre of excellence providing ‘care and education for anyone affected by the death of a child’.

Established in 1989 by a small group of health care professionals in partnership with bereaved parents, The Alder Centre is opposite the Alder Road entrance to the hospital, next to Ronald McDonald House and provides numerous services to bereaved families:

  • Bereavement Care Service
  • Counselling – one to one, couple or family
  • Support Groups for those affected by the loss of a child
  • Volunteer Befriending, offered by bereaved parents
  • The Child Death Helpline, staffed by volunteers and run in conjunction with Great Ormond Street Hospital
  • Therapeutic Family Breaks

The loss of your child is possibly one of the worst things that can happen to you. No-one will be able to tell you exactly how it feels, as everyone acts and feels differently. There is no right or wrong way to grieve. The experience of grief involves a range of feelings of numbness, disbelief, anger, guilt, sadness, emptiness, relief and denial. Many feelings may be so mixed up that you wonder if you are going mad or will ever be able to enjoy life again. This is a perfectly normal reaction to the range of emotions involved..

Contact us

Please contact the Alder Centre on: 0151 252 5391 between 9am and 5pm, Monday to Thursday or between 9am and 4.30pm on Fridays.

Your comments and experiences

  • I’d just like to give a special thanks to Ian of the Bereavement team. As a newly bereaved grandmother I was truly lost but not only did he comfort and support my son and his partner with the upmost dignity and respect, having a shoulder around my youngest son who’s only 11yrs while I was distracted by overwhelming sadness but also helped us as a family to understand everything that was needed to do next. I’ll never forget your kindness Ian, you really are an amazing human being, thank you.

  • My daughter and I have attended the alder centre candle service for 16 years . I need to feed back that I feel the standard of the service has rapidly declined this year . It felt very disjointed from the start . We have always felt it was pitched just right even though there were regular changes through the years , these were mainly positive changes . But this year I felt hugely disappointed . The worst part for us was when a whole section of names beginning with N was omitted from the actual service , yes we were able to stay after the end in the hope this mistake was rectified , which it was , but because people were then leaving the cathedral we were not able to spend a reflective moment seeing our baby,s name appear on the screen as we were dodging people walking past or standing in front of the screen ( we were at the rear of the cathedral). When I attempted to feed back my disappointment to an Alder Hey officiate he wanted to give us reasons for what had happened , but my daughter had approached him and Sue at the side off the cathedral when the “glitch ” happened , he had plenty of time at that point to walk down to the front,before John did the closing down of the service, to make sure a public apology was made . He did not do this even though he had been told of the mistake in the presence of “Sue ” one of the alder centre support workers . So I felt any after thought excuse was too late . We are 16 years along in our grieving process but I know how important the details are , seeing your child’s name , it being spelt correctly etc, when it’s in the early stages of grief/ bereavement in particular. I hope a public apology is made in the media possibly. As a psychological therapist myself I’m only too aware of the impact this years candle service will have had on some of the families present both positive but unfortunately also a negative impact.
    My daughter and I have made the sad desicion that we may not ever attend again , due not only to the events of the evening but more because of the lack of responsibility in offering a SINCERE apology during the service. I trust my reflections will be understood as coming from a bereaved grandparent who feels a sense of sadness not only at the loss of her grandson but also that a service I have always valued appears to be on the decline.

  • My daughter died at Christmas, she was 6. We live miles from any children’s hospital, and the transfer for her to there from our local hospital was traumatizing . Nothing seemed real. Elaine from the alder centre was amazing with us and I trusted her with my daughter in her care. I cant thank the alder team enough for helping me through those dark days. Everything they did for us at the time. Nothing was too much trouble.

  • We lost our son Anthony at 15 days old… I believe the Alder centre saved us they do an amazing job so understanding helpful… our councillor was fantastic and 3 years on we are as happy as we can be in our new adjusted life. A massive thank you to all involved.

  • Thank you to the alder centre ! They supported me and my husband after the death of our eldest son Thomas the work they did with us enabled us as a couple and a family to live our live without Thomas without their help we wouldn’t have survived!

  • I moved from Liverpool to the Wirral an was told I had a place in there if I moved back to Liverpool a month later I have contacted the alder center loads of timea to be told oh Karen isn’t in Karen isn’t in. I’ve even had my gp call up to be told the same thing..

  • I lost my beautiful George 27th September 2013 …. George was in the ICU at alder hey for 2 weeks he had a rare form of epilepsy called Dravet syndrome. The care my little boy received from all the staff was amazing they were so supportive and cared for George the best way they could. The bereavement team I will never forget they were my rock and I could not of got through the worse days of my life without them. The pain never goes away and my heart will be broken forever but I will never forget what one of the nurses said to me ” George is needed somewhere else” Thankyou x

  • i lost my daughter in 1996 in alderhey.my life for the last 20 years has been lost also. I desperately miss her to this day.a piece of my heart will forever be broken. I’m now in a place where I feel that it’s ok to be happy and remember her without falling apart. The pain remains but 20years are lost…I can’t hurt anymore than I have..it’s not possible. People hurt in different ways..all iv known is hurt..I don’t want to hurt anymore…I’m loving you the same my beautiful baby..but I’m letting go of the pain..heartbroken mum

  • The bereavement team were amazing to us when we lost our daughter Jess. I have no idea how we would have coped through those few days without their support and I’m truly thankful for their care and compassion show to our family and to our daughter.

  • […] and services for parents who lose a child. She was keen to focus on the support she received from the Alder Centre, highlighting it as an example of a centre offering the very best support for bereaved parents in […]

  • In desperation our friends found this centre when they realised we needed specialist care after the loss of our wonderful son Daniel following a 3 year battle with brain tumour. He was 32 and our world!!

    There was nothing locally to help us plus being well known in nursing circles in our home town this added additional difficulties. We have had several visits to the alder centre. What a place!! Time with highly skilled professionals to talk and gain the valuable support that we need. Been today and feel calmer and more at peace with the cards we have been dealt. Even the receptionists seem to have a caring and compassionate approach not often found!! Sheila is just wonderful thank you all so much without you I think we would have fallen by the wayside

  • been reading comments about this yrs candle service ,ive been attending this service for 18yrs since my daughter rebecca died ,the alder centre were and are an amazing help to us all ,I thought the changes made to the candle service where tastefully done and felt an inner warmth when my rebeccas name was shown on screen ,1 thing i wasnt to sure about tho was the cannons speech at the start , i felt like he was saying that because our babys died early that we didnt feel the pain as much as we may have done if they were older because we have no memories of their personality etc , my pain is partlt because i didnt have the time with her to make memories ,im sorry to put this on here because you are all fantastic and amazing i what you do xxxx

  • Hi

    I have just read the comments about the candle service.

    Unfortunately the reading out of names would only become a longer and longer part of the service year on year and become very overwhelming,

    Can I suggest a projector is used to display the names on a wall during the service as a way of including the babies and children being remembered?

  • My experience was 5 years ago now. But it’s only leather past few months I AV considered counsiling. I spent 6 months with my daughter in alder hey hospital, she was diagnosed with a very rare condition called mytrochondrial myopathy. There as only been 3 people in the country who AV had this condition. Leoni sadly passed away 2 days b4 her 4th birthday.

  • I have been involved with The Alder Centre since the very early days after my son baby James christian died at Alder Hey after heart surgery. It is too traumatic for a lot of parents to return so The Alder Centre could be relocated to somewhere else outside the hospital so all could access it now that a new hospital is being built! I do hope this will be careful thought!

  • I have Lost Two Babies One In 1997 And One In 2004 This Is The Most Heartbreaking And Difficult Journey To walk I Have Decided To Open A Group Called Forever Cherished Angels Support Group On Facebook To Help, Support Other Angel Parents

  • Myself and my daughter and latterly my son in law have attended the candle service for the past 14 years , and although I initially felt there was something missing from this years candle service as my beautiful grandson Aaron,s name was not read out loud, I also feel that the stress and anxiety we have felt for a few years ,when names have been mispronounced or stumbled over, was taken away by the screening of the names. I appreciate that it was a difficult task for the readers of the names but as a family we felt ourselves wishing and hoping that a particular reader would read Aaron’s name out , as their reading style was clear and concise and that also it was not pronounced Eeron. Well done this years (2014) candle service was very well done. Thank you from Sue and Jan Newall , and also Joe Machin.

  • Hi, The Candle Service on the 11th was a disappointment this year.Been attending for 23 yrs since we lost Stacey and Chloe and like to hear there names read out every year , we got the impression it was just rushed through to save time reading out the names, very saddened to see this happen, thanks Glenda

    • Dear Glenda,

      I am so sorry that you were disappointed with changes introduced at our annual Candle Service. For many years it has been part of the Service to read out the names of the children we have lost and I fully appreciate that this has been very meaningful for many families over the years, and particularly for you to hear Stacey and Chloe’s name. However in recent years both the Alder Centre and the Cathedral have received feedback from families that this part of the Service was too long and that the volume of names was becoming overwhelming. For some families this meant that the Service was no longer as comforting or as hope filled as it had been previously and without it changing, they would feel unable to attend.

      A group of bereaved parent volunteers met over a period of 6 months to plan the Candle Service and faced the difficult task of trying to balance the needs of all of our bereaved families. This group had introduced the screening of children’s names at our 2013 Candle Service and as this was very well received, decided to continue this format in 2014. However, they also recognised the importance of having a child’s name stated aloud, and we included as part of the Service ‘the Naming’, where families were invited to say out loud the name of the child they were there to remember. Each family was also given an individual candle to light in memory of their child. Details of these proposed changes were included in the letters sent out to families advertising the Candle Service so that as many people as possible were prepared in advance for the change .

      By including these three acts of memorial, the parent planning group aimed to meet the needs of as many families as possible and still ensure that the Service maintained its personal meaning to each individual family. The screening of the names seemed to be particularly powerful this year, with many families congregating at the altar of candles beneath the screen to take photographs of their child’s name at the end of the Service. Feedback on the night and since has been positive and I have received comments that the Service proved to be more uplifting this year than last. Again I accept that this change would not have been easy for all, particularly when you have attended the Service for many years and grown used to a certain format. I will of course pass on your views to the planning group when they meet in the New Year to review the Service and again we will need to try and consider all of the feedback we receive before planning the Service for 2015.

      Yours sincerely
      Shelagh Hatton

  • We lost our little treasure, Michael, aged 7 on 7th August 2003 to cancer and the Alder Centre counsellors were instrumental in us coming to an understanding as to how two parents can grieve in totally different ways. The counselling also included our eldest son Andrew, who was 10 at the time. It gave him a chance to say how he felt about losing his brother. I especially found the experience very helpful, and now am a volunteer on the helpline, where I feel that I can pass on my experience to newly bereaved parents and help them to understand what it is like to travel on the journey of a bereaved parent.

  • I had a baby Olly on 7/8/13 at Manchester and transferred to Alder hey. Olly had hypo-plastic left heart syndrome the staff were brilliant with him in the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit but because Olly’s condition was severe we got transferred to Newcastle Freeman hospital as olly underwent his heart surgery he came back the ECMO (Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation) sadly olly lost his fight on the 04/09/13 we can’t thank all the nurses doctors everyone enough for what they did for us and Olly

  • My baby girl demi Marie died in alder hey March 1st 2011 she was taken ill with h1n1 virus and was on a ventilater for about 2 months before we found she had a stroke and bleed on the brain while sedated and then we found she was fighting a rare form of cancer she fought all her life fitted with a micky button she was an inspiration to us all

  • I had a 10 day old grandaughter die at alderhey recently and the support my daughter has had from the staff at the bereavement centre has been really good the staff do an amazing job in extremely heartbreaking circumstances

  • i had a 3 week old baby in this hospital and sadly he died but the staff at alder hey supported me and my partner through this the bereavement centre was amazing the staff was so supportting defitnitly the best hospital to use the staff are so nice

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