For 10 years Barbara Ratcliff has run Chapter 4 of Loved 4 Life, a non-profit organisation that exists to show love and support to newborn babies and their families.

Started by Marcia Guest McGrath from Te Horo in 2007 after the publicised death of the Kahui twins, Marcia was moved by their deaths to do something within her own community.

Seeing that many families today are often alone with grandparents and extended family living far away, Marcia wanted a unique and special way to reach out to families in her local community after the birth of a newborn, to show them they are loved and supported.

Loved 4 Life was born from that desire and now has 16 chapters (groups) in communities around the North Island giving quilts to every newborn they come across regardless of their situation.

Advertisement

In early 2009 Marcia and Barbara began a new group in Waikanae, Chapter 4, which Barbara took under her wing.

"Barbara gathered a group of woman around her who have become close friends and supported each other through some very difficult times," Loved 4 Life chairwoman Ann Harkness said.

"They have been a very effective group of creators of extremely beautiful quilts, and Barbara has ensured that hundreds of these quilts have found their way to the babies in the Waikanae area."

To date Chapter 4 has made and given 480 quilts to newborns in Waikanae along with knitted clothing and meals for families.

"It's a gift from the community sending love to them from everyone," said Barbara who is now handing over the reins of Chapter 4.

"What we do is about trying to get the parents to notice not that they haven't had any sleep, but the joy of every tiny milestone with their newborn.

"Four ribbons are sewn onto each quilt and when we give the quilt we encourage the parents to use the ribbons as a celebration of the child's development, and to tie a knot when they notice any of the many positive things that the child does, such as a smile or a first tooth.

"It's about helping them see the joy in every tiny milestone."

After 10 years of running the group, meeting each new mother and delivering the quilts by hand, with the exception of quilts that went down to Christchurch after the earthquakes, Barbara is retiring from running Chapter 4.

"The mothers knew that I was coming but they were always so thrilled, just so grateful.

The best part is seeing the mothers years later in the supermarket and seeing their children running around all grown up."

Since 2007 Loved 4 Life have helped and extended their love to over 4800 families in communities around New Zealand.

With 16 chapters and over 160 volunteers, chapters meet once a month and always welcome new members.

For more information visit www.loved4life.com