Mulgoa Woman of the Year Announced: Erin Johnson
After the miscarriage of her daughter, Ava Grace, in March 2015 following the diagnosis of the rare condition cystic hygroma, Erin Johnson began a journey to break the silence around miscarriage, stillbirth and infant loss.
At a time when mothers would be caring for their new baby, Erin Johnson, of Glenmore Park, sat at her sewing machine and began to sew clothes for other stillborn babies at Nepean Hospital.
What began as donating 3cm nappies for babies born at 12 weeks, soon became a massive volunteer effort which has seen clothes donated to hospitals across Australia, as well as hospitals overseas.
Erin Johnson reflected on how she came to start the group “Ava Grace, No Footprint Too Small” upon receiving the Mulgoa Woman of the Year award.
“I started the volunteer group soon after Ava was born as a way of giving back and working through my grief” Erin Johnson said.
“I was sitting at a sewing machine trying my best to sew simple blankets and nappies for other parents who would walk the same path that we were now walking”.
“I treasured the items that amazing charities and volunteers had given to Nepean Hospital to pass on to us so that our daughter would have something to wear and something that we could hold in our hands when she was gone”.
Member for Mulgoa Tanya Davies, who has herself experienced pregnancy loss, was inspired by Erin turning her grief into a story of hope and healing for other parents.
“At a time when Erin was mourning the loss of her own baby, she showed a heart of compassion in supporting other families who were going through the same journey” Tanya Davies said.
“Many of us remain silent as we grieve, but Erin turned her grief into good, providing clothing to give dignity to these children and create a community where other women can share their story”.
Tanya Davies presented Erin Johnson with the Mulgoa Woman of the Year, alongside her husband, Mat, friend and dedicated volunteer, Natasha, and the midwives of Nepean Hospital.
Antenatal and Gynaecology Nurse Unit Manager, Shirley Hammond has built a team of midwives to care for bereaved parents in a way that provides dignity and honour to their child and commended Erin and her team in helping them provide clothes for stillborn babies.
“Erin and her team have provided our patients with some lasting memories for their precious angel babies” Shirley Hammond said.
“My staff and I truly appreciate what they do to support us and our patients on this very hard journey. We are honoured to celebrate with her this well-deserved award”.
The NSW Women of the Year Awards program recognises remarkable women across the state who have achieved inspiring results in their careers, in business or in their communities.