A PONTYPOOL primary school yesterday unveiled a roundhouse in memory of a former pupil and worker who died after giving birth last year.
Staff and pupils at Ysgol Bryn Onnen welcomed parents, friends, and families to the official opening of The Roundhouse, or T? Crwn, in memory of 21-year-old Hannah-Michelle Browne, who died shortly after giving birth in March 2013.
A rare medical condition caused the Pontypool woman, who attended Ysgol Bryn Onnen and then briefly worked at the Welsh medium school to do her NVQ as a classroom assistant, to suffer a massive cardiac arrest and go into a coma during labour in early 2013, leaving her unaware she had given birth.
Three weeks later doctors were able to regain her consciousness so she could meet her son Gerwyn for the first time – a moment captured on camera by her mother, Michelle Browne.
But after spending just one hour with her baby she slipped back into unconsciousness and died two weeks later.
Young Gerwyn, now 16 months old, was at the unveiling yesterday and capped-off the opening by printing his painted hand on the wall of the roundhouse, as did Hannah-Michelle’s younger brother Ellis-Michael, and dozens of other pupils at the school.
Ms Browne, 43, gave an emotional speech at the school’s playing field yesterday (Fri), thanking people for their support, adding The Roundhouse was a way of keeping her daughter’s memory alive.
She said: “It’s an emotional day. We were told about the possibility of The Roundhouse when Hannah was ill up in Birmingham. It’s here so that she will never be forgotten.”
Hannah-Michelle was rushed by ambulance 100 miles to Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham’s specialist intensive care unit, where she was diagnosed with Peripartum Cardiomyopathy – a type of heart failure that strikes in the latter stages of pregnancy.
It is a leading cause of maternal death, but in most cases – like Hannah-Michelle's - the mother is unaware she suffers from the condition.
Representatives from the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham Charity were also at the unveiling yesterday to receive money raised from a charity golf day and through fundraisers by the three Welsh language schools in the area; Ysgol Bryn Onnen, Ysgol Panteg, and Ysgol Gyfun Gwynllyw where Hannah-Michelle also attended.
Justine Davy, head of fundraising at QEHB Charity, said: “We’ve had a great day and it’s all about a sense of family here. The money they have raised will make a huge difference and we are very thankful.”
Ryan Parry, headteacher at Ysgol Bryn Onnen, said: “We are a very family-orientated school. Hannah-Michelle was a student here and then she came back to work with the year two pupils. The Brownes are very supportive to the school and are very kind people, so it’s a pleasure to reciprocate that support with The Roundhouse.”