Memorial garden opened for Yorkshire 14-year-old who died in his sleep due to rare heart defect

The parents of a 14-year-old boy who tragically died in his sleep have opened a new memorial garden in their son’s memory.

Daniel and Stacey Fleetwood with sons Oliver, 13, and Carter, 8.

Lucas Fleetwood died aged just 14 in September 2019 after suffering a sudden cardiac death caused by a rare heart defect known as congenitally corrected transposition of the great arteries (CCTGA).

Lucas’ parents Daniel and Stacey wanted to create a less traditional resting place, and worked alongside the council’s bereavement services to build a memorial garden within the crematorium grounds where families can go to remember their loved ones.

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Lucas’s family, friends and other donors helped raise almost £11,000 in his memory which has funded the lasting memorials in the garden.

The contractor selected to lay the paths and other groundwork offered to provide plant and equipment free of charge, and another company agreed to provide materials free of charge, after learning the story behind the project.

The tree-sheltered spot has been landscaped and features above ground cabinets known as niches, granite furniture and benches.

The centrepiece is a granite post box for messages visitors can write on special paper infused with seeds. These messages will then be buried in the ground to grow into flowers.

Lucas’s dad Daniel, of Mapplewell, said: “It’s absolutely blown us away to see the designs for the garden come off the page into reality. It’s just beautiful and has really exceeded all our expectations.

“We wanted this to be about much more than somewhere for us to remember Lucas, it will stand here for any families who may need it in the future and that’s why we did this. From the bottom of our hearts, we’d like to thank everyone who helped fund and create this legacy for young people taken too soon.”

Barnsley Central MP and South Yorkshire Mayor Dan Jarvis said: “I am honoured and humbled to officially open the Forget You Not Garden at Barnsley Crematorium inspired by Lucas Fleetwood.

“Lucas’ parents, Daniel and Stacey, have been tireless in their campaigning efforts in Lucas’ memory. Their efforts, and the extraordinary generosity of Barnsley people who contributed to the Crowdfunder, have made this garden possible.

“The Forget You Not Garden is a safe space for bereaved parents to remember children lost long before their time; and a peaceful, tranquil area that doesn’t dwell on the pain of loss, but on the celebration of life.”

Mayor of Barnsley Coun Makinson said: “The story behind this memorial garden is such an emotive one, and while clearly it’s filled with sadness, it fills me with joy to know that this garden is bringing comfort to Lucas’s family. I’m so pleased that it’s here whenever a family needs a quiet place to remember a young person.”