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Memory Milk - the Ultimate Gift

We are very proud to be funding the Memory Milk Gift Initiative in Scotland, a project which aims to celebrate the strength, courage and generosity of families who choose to donate milk in memory of their baby.

The Memory Milk Gift Initiative

The Memory Milk Gift Initiative was founded in June 2021 with the aim of improving services offered to bereaved families donating to the Milk Bank at Chester (MBAC), the largest NHS Milk Bank in England.

Over the past year, staff at the Milk Bank in Glasgow have worked closely with the team in Chester to share ideas and resources surrounding milk donation and breast care after loss.

'We have worked collaboratively and nationally with Milk Bank Scotland to expand the Memory Milk Gift Initiative and are delighted that Scotland now has it's own Memory Milk Gift Tree. Well done to everyone involved in the project and thank you to all of the donors across the UK who have donated in memory of their baby.'

Laura Atherton, Co-ordinator and Bereavement Lead at Chester Milk Bank

After birth, your hormones change which leads to your breasts making milk. For mums and parents who have experienced a miscarriage, stillbirth or infant death, this can be very painful as it reminds them of their loss.

Others find making and expressing milk comforting as it helps with their grief. It is important to stress that there is no right or wrong way to feel, or right or wrong decision. The Memory Milk Gift Initiative simply strives to make families aware of the different options available to them so that they can make the right choice for themselves.

Donated milk can be used to feed babies who are premature or unwell and also for research purposes to help healthcare professionals understand more about breastmilk and its benefits.

Our Memory Milk Gift Tree

Inspired by Chester's Memory Milk Gift Tree, a hand-painted mural commemorating the families who have donated their milk in memory of their baby, Glasgow Children's Hospital Charity have worked together with Milk Bank Scotland to commisson our very own tree here in Glasgow.

Families who donate milk after loss can choose to have their baby's name added as a leaf on the tree to commemorate them.

milk bank message

The Memory Milk Gift Tree was officially unveiled on Thursday 8th September to a group made up of Milk Bank staff from both Glasgow and Chester, Kirsten Watson, the Chief Executive for Glasgow Children's Hospital Charity and parents Charlene and Steven, whose late son Matthew James is the first baby to have a leaf on our tree.

‘The Memory milk Gift Initiative is a way for families who have suffered a loss to honour their baby and to have their contribution recognised on our memory milk tree. It’s important for families to have information so they can make an informed choice about their care and their breast milk in such difficult circumstances. Milk donation is not for everyone, but some families find it helps them cope with grief. We want all families to be supported to make the right choice for them.'

Debbie Barnett, Donor Milk Bank Coordinator


Our Memory Milk Tree is located in the Milk Bank at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital and we are delighted to be able to offer families who donate after loss the opportunity to have their baby’s name added to the tree. Families are also offered a wooden Memory Milk Pebble to remember their precious gift to others.

pebble milk bank

If a family donated in the past before the Memory Milk Gift Initiative was established, we are still able to add their baby's name to the tree and gift them a memory milk pebble. You can find ways to get in touch at the end of the article. 

Designing our Tree

Our Memory Milk Gift Tree in Glasgow was painted by local artist Julia Gallacher, owner and designer at the Highland Literary Company. As well as creating a beautiful mural, Julia also managed to include a lot of powerful imagery into her design. 

The tree and pebbles were designed to resemble oak wood, a symbol of strength and growth to represent the families who choose to donate their breast milk. Julia also managed to include a milk drop shape into the bark of the tree. 

milkdropThe mural also features purple butterflies and a pastel-coloured rainbow, which are both symbols of baby loss. 

The Milk Bank team were keen to incorporate Scottish elements within the design which Julia acheived through the deer with his tartan bow and purple-flowered thistles, the national emblem of Scotland. 

deer milk bank

The Memory Milk Gift Tree also holds special meaning for Julia as during her work on the project, she discovered that her own mother donated her breast milk 36 years ago after losing Julia's older sister, Tanja.

Julia incorporated this family connection into her design by including a red butterfly with her and Tanja's initials.

Red butterfly milk tree

‘I felt hugely honoured to be chosen as the artist for the new memory milk gift tree. My own mum donated her milk after my sister passed 36 years ago, and I have such respect and awe for the women who find the strength to commemorate their babies in this way, who find meaning in their worst times by helping other little ones. It’s such an incredible thing to do, and I am in total admiration of both the milk bank and Glasgow Children’s Hospital for fighting for even the littlest lives, and giving each baby the meaning, support, and love they so deserve. I hope in the smallest way my tree can be part of this fight, while also offering a bit of solace for these wonderful mums whom my heart so goes out to.’

Julia gallacher, Artist and owner of The Highland Literary Co


Our First Leaf

Charlene and Steven's baby boy Matthew James sadly passed away earlier this year. After dicussing her options with her healthcare team, Charlene made the incredible decision to continue expressing milk and donate it to the Milk Bank in her son's memory.

Matthew James is the first baby to have a leaf on our tree.

matthews leaf

At the project launch event, Charlene and Steven were able to have a private moment with the tree before being presented with a personalised memory pebble and card by Debbie Barnett, the Donor Milk Bank Coordinator for Glasgow.


'This tree means so much to us as it reminds us that our little boy won’t be forgotten, no matter how few people knew him. There are some who bring a light so great to the world that even after they have gone the light remains.'


Charity Support for the Milk Bank

As well as funding the Memory Milk Gift Initiative, Glasgow Children's Hospital Charity also supports the Milk Bank through our team of volunteer drivers who transport donor human milk from donors homes, to the milk bank and out to Neonatal Units all across Scotland.

donor milk bank 2

'Glasgow Children’s Hospital Charity is very honoured to be funding the Memory Milk Initiative here at the children’s hospital in Glasgow. The Charity has worked to support the Donor Milk Bank for many years and we appreciate the significant and positive impact that the service has on the lives of babies from across Scotland. This initiative is a very poignant way to remember and give thanks to those families who make the service possible.'

Kirsten watson, chief executive of glasgow children's hospital charity

kirsten milk bank

Find out more

For more information on the Memory Milk Gift Initiative in Scotland, visit their website.

You can also follow them on Twitter and Facebook.

All families who donate after loss, can have their baby’s name added to our Memory Milk Tree and receive a  Memory Milk Pebble with their baby’s name to remember their precious gift to others. These are available at any time during the donation journey or afterwards by filling out the Memory Tree Consent Form on the website.

Families can also arrange a visit to see the Memory Milk Tree by calling 0141 232 7973 or emailing: