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Blessing furry and feathered friends

TOGETHER: Emma Clark with Molly and Reverend Bill Howarth at the special service at St Mary’s Anglican Church, West Armidale.PETS of Armidale joined the congregation at St Mary’s Anglican Church for their own blessing of the animal’s service over the weekend.

The special service acknowledged the relationship between residents and their animal counterparts.

St Mary’s Anglican Church warden Jan Clark said the service was part of a celebration of St Francis Assisi who was the patron saint of animals.

“[St Francis] preached the beauty of all creation so we celebrated that by blessing our pets who bring us unconditional love and joy,” Ms Clark said.

Ms Clark said the furry and feathered friends were all very well-behaved.

“It’s just one of those celebrations that is lovely to be a part of,” she said.

The Armidale RSPCA also helped out providing activities and church goers enjoyed animal and human treats after the service.

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In memory of the babies we lost

Hope: Amanda Bowles will soon open a dedicated counselling service for bereaved parents at Castle Hill. Part of what her charity, Bears of Hope, does is gift grieving parents with a bear (like the one pictured) from another grieving parent. “The bear is tagged in their child’s name, giving that family a chance to give their child’s brief life purpose,” Mrs Bowles said. “The receiving family, very early in the piece, gets to understand they’re not alone and there’s a community to embrace them and help them along in their grief.” Picture: Geoff JonesABOUT 90 people gathered on Saturday in beautiful weather to remember children lost at childbirth or at infancy.

Bears of Hope director Amanda Bowles, of Glenwood, said the day was absolutely magical as people from across The Hills and beyond gathered for the memorial at Eden Gardens at North Ryde.

Those attending stopped to remember those they had lost, released lotus flowers into the pond and heard the names of each baby read aloud.

Tomorrow, October 15,is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day and a service was held specially at the weekend to ensure all could attend.

This evening, everyone is invited to take part in the International Wave of Light, when bereaved parents and caregivers will light a candle at 7pm to remember lost children.

It comes just as Ms Bowles confirmed the Bears of Hope organisation would open a Castle Hill counselling service dedicated to those who have experienced pregnancy and infant loss. “We’re excited the office and the support base will be open in coming months,” she said.

READ MORE: Click here to read more about Bears of Hope.

“It will provide people with greater accessibility to our support services. It will mean free counselling in their own backyard and the opportunity to connect with our volunteers becomes greater.”

More than nine years ago Ms Bowles gave birth to a stillborn son, Jesse.

As a way of honouring his memory she developed Bears of Hope, a support, education and awareness charity for bereaved parents, governed by an executive committee of parents who have personally experienced the loss of a baby.

“If I look back over those nine and half years since my son was stillborn, the access to services and the open discussion that’s happening now is remarkable,” she said.

“There’s been a real shift in the last four years. The topic has become more acceptable and therefore more acceptable in common discussion.”

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Tadpoles learn to jump in the deep end

MAKING WAVES: Fynn Drummond learns some safe swimming techniques from swim instructor Georgia Hertzog. Picture: GLENN DANIELS

With the mercury set to spike above 30 this week, Bendigonians of all ages are hitting the water.

But in a bid to keep youngsters safe while enjoying a dip in the pool,Splash Swimming Bendigo is running learn to swim programs.

Owner and swim teacher Belinda Hackett said on the cusp of summer, it was more crucial than ever to teach young children how to be safe around the water.

Last year, 271 people drowned in Australian waterways, 39 of those in Victoria.Up to 37 per cent of drownings occurred in inland waterways such as creeks, riversor streams, and 16 per cent died because of falling into water.

Ms Hackett said she was determined to teach children skills so they could survive in the water.

“I’m pushing for a situation where if kids go to a river andif they do fall in, they’ll be able to get themselves out by treading water and getting back to safety,” she said.

“Yes the water is dangerous, butwe do fun activities as well.”

The program simulates tricky situations so children know how to respond.

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