A Chesham mother-to-be is reaching out to parents in Buckinghamshire to help her create a tribute to her late mother – who gave countless parents award-winning advice when she worked as an NCT teacher.
Olivia Kolvin, who will give birth to her first child in four months, is appealing for parents who were taught by her mum, Alison Heffernan, to share the advice they received so a book can be made as a living memorial.
Alison, who died in 2015, devoted her life to working with babies and children; for 33 years she ran NCT classes in Amersham and Chesham and only finished her last class eight days before she died.
By 1996, Alison reached her 1,000th baby and the next course she was due to start the Monday after her death would have also been her 1,000th.
Olivia, 35, is hoping some of the parents who attended have pictures, stories and tips to share.
“Mum truly cared for every person she met, she devoted herself to each parent and made sure they were completely informed throughout their pregnancy,” she said.
“We know how many people's lives mum touched – we witnessed it. But to have something concrete like a book or a leaflet would mean everything and she would have loved knowing her wisdom lived on.
“My pregnancy has been an absolute rollercoaster without mum there - I've really needed her by my side. I always thought it would be something we would go through together.
“That's why I would be so grateful if people came forward – I'm missing her input into my pregnancy and if people passed on her wisdom it would be like she was there guiding me through the next four months.”
In May 2015, after a lifetime devoted to teaching primary school children and NCT courses, Alison died suddenly at her favourite place – a farm in Tuscany surrounded by family.
Before her death, Alison chaired the Maternity Services Liaison committee at Stoke Mandeville and her tireless work was recognised when the 'Alison Heffernan Award for excellence in Maternity Services' was created last year.
On top of volunteering at the hospital, Alison served as the national out of hours emergency number for the NCT and was the calming person frantic parents needed.
Olivia recalls her mum dropping everything to help expectant parents when they needed advice or support.
She said: “I remember one Christmas day a lady calling in floods of tears, Mum showed her compassion giving her the knowledge she needed to deal with the situation she was in.
“I have so many questions that I know she would have the answers to… some important some ridiculous – but she would have answered each one with the same compassion and love.
“She taught us exactly what was important – which is to love and care for everyone and to be kind. There's nothing more that I want for my child than to feel the love and kindness we felt.”
The appeal is also supported heavily by Alison's husband, Kevin, and her two other daughters Tamsin and Julia, who both have followed in the footsteps of Alison by working in the childcare industry.