Shoreham mother’s grief inspires unique business decorating graves

Michelle has started an online business after struggling to find ornaments for her daughter's grave
Michelle has started an online business after struggling to find ornaments for her daughter's grave

A mother, who experienced every parent’s worst nightmare by losing her child ‘suddenly and tragically’, has channelled her grief into a unique business – creating bright and beautiful grave ornaments.

Michelle de la Motte-Rice’s daughter Lola was two years old, and had been ‘absolutely fine’, when she fell ill with what doctors believed to be a tummy bug.

Nothing is going to make you feel better when you lose someone you love but I hope the ornaments can be a source of comfort and strength

Michelle de la Motte-Rice

But three days later Lola suffered a seizure, was diagnosed with a brain tumour and died the next day on March 22, 2006.

Her grieving parents looked for decorations to place on her grave at Mill Lane Cemetery, Shoreham, to commemorate events like birthdays and Christmas.

But Michelle, of Mill Hill, Shoreham, said: “There was just nothing I could buy.

“Everything was so depressing.

“Even the vases – they were all black and dark.”

Her search for ‘something fun and bright, just as Lola was’, led Michelle to design and have items made herself.

When other bereaved families expressed interest in the ornaments, Michelle realised she was not alone, and the former fashion booker created the online business Gifts for Angels.

“I think people thought I was a bit crazy,” said the 41-year-old mother of three daughters – Ava, 12, Reya, ten, and Lila-Bleu, six.

“It’s such a taboo subject in this country, but it’s a fact of life.”

The ornaments, which include cherubs, brightly coloured vases, lockets and sympathy gifts, are produced in an ethically run factory in Sri Lanka, Michelle’s parents’ home country.

Ten per cent of profits go towards Brain Tumour Research.

Michelle also holds a ball every two years to raise money for the charity.

She said: “Nothing is going to make you feel better when you lose someone you love but I hope the ornaments can be a source of comfort and strength.

“The business has been a massive therapy for me.”

Find out more at www.giftsforangels.co.uk