Ditchling mother finds baby daughter 41 years after stillborn

Catharine Robinson
Catharine Robinson

A mother has finally found the resting place of her baby daughter - 41 years after she was stillborn.

Catharine Robinson, from Ditchling, had a perfectly healthy pregnancy, but her baby, known only as ‘Baby Robinson’ was overdue and died before childbirth in Cuckfield Hospital.

The baby was taken away before Catharine held or even saw her, and she was not told where her daughter was buried.

But after 41 years she decided to rekindle attempts to find her child, and with help from funeral directors P&S Gallagher and West Sussex Archives, she discovered her daughter was buried at Holy Trinity Church in Cuckfield.

“I’ll never forget hearing ‘Mrs Robinson, I have found your baby’, I was very emotional,” Catharine said.

She had tried to locate baby Robinson many times over the years, and never stopped thinking about the baby.

But she was told there were no records of her.

Catharine continued: “It was different in those days. She was taken away and I did not hold or see her and we were never told what had happened to her, although I seem to remember that my husband was told that they had buried her in a man’s coffin. As you can imagine it was a very sad time but things were different 41 years ago,” she said.

Catharine was inspired to search for Baby Robinson at a Safari Supper at St Margaret’s Church, Ditchling.

“Little did I know what the outcome of this evening event would be,” she said.

A friend told of her sister, who also had a stillborn baby in 1974 at Cuckfield Hospital.

Years later a researcher at Westmeston Churchyard discovered the baby, who was born less than a year after Catharine’s and in the same hospital, was buried at Holy Trinity.

“I could not believe what I was hearing and the emotional affect it was having on me,” Catharine said.

It took just two hours for West Sussex Archives to find her baby daughter.

“I was totally shocked and overwhelmed,” she said.

Matthew Gallagher at P&S Gallagher explained the baby was buried on November 16, 1973, and he could meet her ‘in a few weeks’ at the graveyard to show her the exact grave.

“What an emotional few hours. I could not wait for a few weeks.

“I might have waited 41 years but I could not wait any longer and went to the cemetery,” Catharine said.

“I could not find her but just the knowledge that she is there has been a huge comfort. It was very moving.”

She is determined to ensure others in her position have a chance to be reunited.

“I would just love it if other people could do the same. People need to know they can do something about it,” she said.

Father David of St Margaret’s plans to give the baby a long awaited blessing, and the stone will be engraved with ‘Baby Robinson’.

Catharine added: “When she was born my dear aunt wrote to me saying not to worry that I did not know where she was, as she was with Jesus in the Kingdom of Heaven, and every year I read her card as they were special words. Now actually having found her has made me so very happy and none of this would have happened without the family and friendship of St Margaret’s.”