|The New ISANDS Website (2008)|
About ten years ago ISANDS was given a gift of our website by Colm & Niamh Lyon in memory of their daughter, Sophie. This gift came about out of the untimely and tragic death of Sophie and her Dad’s frantic search for support following her death. Back then there was little advice, information and support for parents who searched the Internet.
Since then and out of Sophie’s little lifetime many parents, family members, health care professionals and others have been helped and supported. Colm’s own words at the time the website was launched were “now it’s there I feel better and maybe someday, some other Mum or Dad might be sitting down and maybe would like to find out more but doesn’t want to talk.” We must also mention Colm’s friend Stuart Forgarty who constructed the original www.isands.ie The old website has served us well and has often been the first source of contact with ISANDS and our support services.
Over a year ago Colm made contact with me and made an offer to re-construct ISANDS website, using the advice and expertise of Doop Design. We arranged to meet to discuss possibilities. I remember arriving to meet the team at Colm’s place of work, with a very large suitcase on wheels, with a section of the ISANDS Remembrance Quilt and the Remembrance Book, a load of drawings and literature inside it. I remember thinking afterwards for some of the people I met that day it may have been the first time they had ever seen such an expression of sadness and grief. Yet in a very strange way the Quilt and the Book also gave opportunity to discuss celebrating the short lives of the children it represented. One of the ideas I had was to create a Virtual Remembrance Quilt on the new website and having the existing Quilt with me, explained better than I could what that meant to parents and families. We discussed the technicalities around producing a Digital Quilt and other various developments and ideas for the new site.
Out of that first meeting and many more with Peter Walsh, Sinead Murnane and Brian Greene from Doop Design, the new website began to emerge. I will always remember the day I got a call to come out to Doop to see the first stage of the new Virtual Remembrance Quilt. I was amazed by the technology and overwhelmed by these wonderful people who had interpreted the idea and made it happen. Peter, Sinead and Brian were wonderful to me; they took on board every concept and made it happen. They were patient and understanding; they treated the memory of our children with the utmost respect and reverence. It was an absolute pleasure working with them and my personal thanks to them for bringing ideas and concepts to realisation.
And so, in Sophie’s tenth year and to celebrate her short life ISANDS receives the amazing gift of this new website from her parents Colm & Niamh Lyon. The new website is incredible and offers new information and support. It offers a version of our book for parents A Little Lifetime in Polish and French (downloads), for our new Irish communities. It includes the latest newsletters to read and download. Our re-vamped Shop and opportunity to make purchases/donations by credit card on secure payments systems provided by Realex Payments. The new Virtual Quilt has to be seen. We hope that it will offer parents, families, friends, colleagues, health care professionals or just someone surfing the web the opportunity to share in a new experience and expression.
Thanks, just doesn’t seem enough to say to Colm & Niamh but as a bereaved mother myself I know they must feel a sense of pride that Sophie made this happen and her short lifetime has made a very real difference to all our lives.
National Chairperson, ISANDS (2008)