July 1st to many of us is the countdown to the end of term and the beginning of our summer plans, but on Friday our families attention was drawn away from our everyday life as we were taken back 100 years along with many other by standers to witness a moving scene throughout the UK. It was a piece of living art commissioned by 14-18 NOW which depicted young men dressed in WW1 uniform appearing silently and wandering through our train stations, shops and streets. Thousands of volunteers took part in this UK-wide event as a modern memorial to mark the centenary of the Battle of the Somme. The work was conceived and created by Turner Prize-winning artist Jeremy Deller in collaboration with Rufus Norris, Director of the National Theatre, and it combined 2 of my personal passions…theatre and history!

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I think most people know that Friday whilst a seemingly normal day for us all was in fact the 100 year commemoration of the start of the Battle of the Somme; an awful period of WW1 where over 19,000 British soldiers lost their lives in just the 1st day and known still today to be the bloodiest day in history for the British Army. We don’t often have reason to pause from the madness of life and to truly reflect on these events that have changed the course of history, but the reality is that the principle effect of War is death, and on that day 100 years ago a disturbing number of young men fell in battle in a hope for peace. But who were they? Who were the ones that gave their tomorrows for our today? I have since found out that one of them was my great great uncle, but what about the other thousands? Whose uncle, brother, father or son were they? Well lest we forget them by name, each actor remained silent in their ghostly presence amongst us, only interacting to hand a simple white card where upon was written the name and age of the soldier they represented that fell in battle on the 1st July 1916. As I held them in my hand I had to share on Instagram:

Not one spoke to me, just each handed me their card as they stared past me and I looked upon it to see who they were and when they were killed!
Unbelievably moving… I cant stop thinking about the tragedy of war and how blessed we are so many gave their lives for us to have peace and a future”


I have said before how the great wars and post war period are one of my favourite historic periods to learn about, read about and see things about. I think that living in our day, with so many luxuries, wasted food and freedom we can never truly comprehend what war torn Britain was like, and the strength of those from that period genuinely fascinates me. The thought of fear and mass genocide is harrowing and humbles me, and there is no way we could ever ever imagine the horror of what being in the trenches was ever like…and thankfully we do not have to.

These men lived what we can only try to imagine, and this campaign paused our world to remember theirs. It briefly drew our attention to this sobering act of sacrifice as these silent WW1 soldiers, all volunteers and men aged between 16-52, took time to portray the men who would have fought in the Somme. They were not trained actors but come from a range of professions, including a sheep farmer, flight attendant, doctor, lawyer, social worker, shop assistant, portrait artist and GCSE student. They came together to rehearse in theatres across the UK over a month-long period in the run-up to the performance. The daylong work ran from 7am to 7pm and covered the width and breadth of the UK, from Shetland to Plymouth. Sites they visited included shopping centres, train stations, beaches, car parks and high streets – taking the memorial to contemporary Britain and bringing an intervention into people’s daily lives where it was least expected, and thus causing people to stand still, to reflect and to remember each individual that fell that day.  I am grateful we were some of those who were paused in our own tracks, it certainly was a powerful sight to see and we were moved by this poignant scene, thankfully able to take some time to follow them on their journey where members of the public cleared a path in awe to let them through.

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‘We’re here because we’re here’ was made possible by an Ambition for Excellence Award from Arts Council England and by the Heritage Lottery Fund, with additional support from Paul Hamlyn Foundation, Creative Scotland and Art Fund. 14-18 NOW is principally funded by the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund and Arts Council England, and by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, it was the first time 3 national theatres had worked together on such a project and the results, if you were a witness of it, were truly touching and thought provoking.

For this one day we paused our lived and reflected on WW1, we had an opportunity to stand still and to remember a time of unity and sacrifice by our nation. We watched them walk away remembering they would never have returned and Twitter went mad with the #WeAreHere as people shared their own experiences, pictures and emotions surrounding these scenes that were sprung upon them. It was magnificent, it was powerful, but it was rare, and I hope as we look upon these scenes around social media we can see the bigger picture… we can appreciate what thought and planning went in to pull this off in remembering every single one of those almost 20,000 men that fell for us.

Let us each pause to remember that we are here because of them.

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If you missed it or want to see how others reacted then visit www.becausewearehere.co.uk where all shared videos, pictures and reactions from the public have been collected as well as further insights into the Somme.

Run Jump Scrap!

Every year the 9th – 15th of October is dedicated to Baby loss awareness week. I was aware last year towards the back end of it, and to be honest my grief was so consuming that I couldn’t think outside of my own world to do or say anything on this topic, other than sharing my story on here as it played out. But, when I heard it was coming up for 2015 (via the announcements last month at SANDS), I was determined that this year would be different, whilst still fairly raw and easily triggered, my grief is on a different level and I am in a stronger place (mostly) and so I felt like I would use my voice and skills and create action for this cause.
10710579_10152497787631553_8958118996969012601_nSince loosing Poppy I have been aware of my natural ability to talk about it and desire to help others going through it. I know of many who choose to deal with their loss privately, who choose to rarely speak of it and that’s fine, just as we are all different, we also all grieve differently. I however cannot keep silent, because not only am I a talker and need to talk to process and make sense of it all, I also have such an urge inside to want to make a difference, to support, to talk, to change things, and so with this determination and fairly rare ability to vocalise baby loss, I channelled it to create awareness and funds in the form of:

1. A Collaboration with BritMums: At the beginning of the month I thought “what if a parenting site outside of the charities was talking about baby loss too?” and with that I dropped an email across to BritMums…within a couple of days I received an email back and together we made a plan to have them involved. I was responible for gathering bloggers and getting the content over on time and with in about a week it was all done ready for this week.

They wanted different stories and so have featured Still birth, SIDs, HELLP syndrome and pre-eclampsia, Twins/Premature birth, Loss from a dad…Through this I have connected with more bloggers who write of their losses and got to know some in person. We have all emailed back and forth, all delighted that someone wanted to know our story and hear about our babies and more that we can be a voice to the masses. I have new friends in the blogging world now that know and get my story, and greater understanding of loss from their perspectives too.

Click Here for my feature.

2. Fundraising for Leeds Sands: Leeds Sands is my local SANDS support group and they are a fantastic bunch. It strange to say that but they really are and I look forward to seeing the friends I have made there, they have helped and loved me through a lot this last year that so they seemed the obvious ones to fund raise for.

I held a small stall at my friends toddler group and it was Brilliantly supported both by those there and those who couldn’t make it. I had many great friends donate prizes and cash for the Tombola/general cause, and I used my Body Shop business connections to donate incentives for games and a percentage of sales to the cause too.
InstagramCapture_969b817e-e253-4e66-9555-91af3049c6df WP_20151013_09_25_03_ProOver all it was a fulfilling morning and I raised £80 for them to continue their amazing work, with a few donations still on there way – a morning well spent I say!

3. Wave of Light: Baby loss awareness week end on the 15th with “The wave of light” at 7.00pm, where everyone lights a candle in remembrance of their babies.

I have spent the last couple of weeks emailing back and forth to try and arrange something whereby all the members of Leeds sands could get together and do a walk of remembrance and then the wave of light, with some poems and words shared, I envisioned it to be not only a time to remember together, but a time to bond more closely and share our babies. Unfortunately it doesn’t seem to be getting off the ground due to laws around naked flames in parks and open spaces haha I will be participating anyway at home and hope that anyone reading this will feel inclined to light a candle and reflect on a baby you know that is no longer in their parents arms.
WP_20150917_08_36_49_ProI personally believe that October and Baby loss awareness is more for others than the parents, because trust me, when you loose a baby you don’t need a month to remember it! There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think of Poppy and wonder how life might be now if she was here, I work to keep a lid on my emotions, but they still tend to erupt more often than I would like…

Some days its nothing at all and your heart just breaks, some days you just feel a little numb and detached from life  and others you feel alone again, emotional and lost. You still cannot understand how things move so fast when such a tragedy has happened and I think that’s why its so important that people know how many are affected, what its like and what they can do to help and support. I also think its good we have at least one month (aside from their birthday’s) that its socially acceptable to talk of baby loss and say their names. Its amazing that for one week a year people are talking about it…it should be more, but its a start!

Best of Worst

What were you doing this time last year? Do you remember?…Do you remember where you were? who you were with? What you ate, wore or said? can you remember what the weather was doing on September 22nd 2014? If the answer is a big fat “NO”, then I don’t blame you, I can barely remember what I did last weekend or ate 2 days ago, let alone a whole year. But the 22nd of September is not a regular date to me anymore. Approaching it I knew It would be one I would never forget and here looking back its one I remember very vividly,

This time last year I buried my daughter. I had her inside of me for 9 months, held her briefly in my arms/looked at her for only 2 days and then we laid her to rest 5 days later. For many the build up has been all about remembering her birthday and the day we had found out she had passed…whilst these milestones have been anxiously anticipated too, and very hard to relive, they also held brief joyful moments we remember, (mainly being that I got to see what she looked like and hold her in my arms) and I wonder if many realise how terribly hard this anniversary is to face in comparison?

I have been dreading far more the day we had her funeral because it was the end of it all. It was the final day she was physically with all of our family. It was the only day the whole family were in her presence at the same time ever in her life. It was the day I knew I would never see her again in this life and I would never again have the opportunity to hold her or look at her. It was the day my heart properly broke as I watched her daddy, my husband, put that tiny casket into the ground. It was all so final and so that, not giving birth to a sleeping child, was in actual fact the hardest point of my life. So many have focused on the difficulty her birthday might have been, but this day is harder to remember and relive. I kissed her goodnight, Nath laid her down and tucked her in and then we put the lid on the casket late Wednesday night at the hospice and that was the last time we ever saw her.

So what did we plan for this day? What did we choose to do to celebrate and remember her and what did we do to mark the day we would never forget as our last with her? Well…
funeral headingFUNERAL HOME
As we knew she was going to die I had planned a lot of her funeral whilst I was still carrying her. We gave family various assignments and asked them to be involved in different things. It helped a lot to know they were busy doing lovely things for her and felt useful too.

The thing I failed to plan was a funeral home…I found out after that many do baby/infant funerals for FREE, but as we had all that in hand, all we needed was for them to baby sit until the funeral. It took a while and a lot of tears and frustrating phone calls, but my mum was able to arrange with the funeral home that cared for Grandma to have a little space for Poppy to stay till her funeral…they even added the legal plaque to her casket for us with her name and date and this service cost us nothing.

We drove over and picked her up the morning of the funeral in our car and I remember the day was very much how it is today; mild and sunny. I was wearing a black dress with pink polkadots and pink blazer I had borrowed from my mum-in-law. I thought I looked really cool…I didn’t, but I wouldn’t be told by my trendy sister in laws because I thought it was nice and colourful and appropriate and I certainly didn’t want an outfit from my wardrobe that I would always remember I had worn to bury my child.
Being Mormons we held the service in the local LDS church in Beverly and it was packed – a symbol of the love we had around us from friends and family and a sign of all of the lives she had touched. It was a beautiful sight. All the music was a joint decision by Nathan and I and we spent a lot of time meticulously planning every point.

My dad carried her in to the church to Ellie Goulding “How long will I love you” which I know was very hard for him and a sight I hope none of us have to watch again. It was a great service to us though and one I will always be grateful for. We had a little table at the front with a white table cloth and there she sat for the service in her tiny white casket with painted poppies, made by her uncle.

I had a sty in my right eye from the stress of the previous week and being run down with it all, but it didn’t stop me.. I took the opportunity to say a few words as her mummy and Nath said some things too. Her grandma and one of her uncles read poems that I had chosen and we sang hymns that uplifted us and praised the Lord. I didn’t cry much surprisingly.. well not until Naths mum sang “All things bright and Beautiful” by John Rutter – then It got me!
funeral serviceWe played “A thousand years” by Christina Perri to leave to and Nathan and I stood up and picked up the coffin and carried it back to our car. This moment was like I was a fly on the wall watching it… it seemed so surreal.

We chose a burial as it seemed right for us. We chose to bury her in Beverly also , near Nathan’s Grandparents and in a place that felt lovely for our family. The burial was family only and as I said, this was the hardest part – Nathan and I carried her from the car to the grave, and that act of love and duty as her parents together has become a deeply intimate part of our marriage. Once there, he said a prayer and then he lowered her in…everyone dropped roses on top and paused to say goodbye. Meanwhile his youngest sister played several hymns on the violin and whilst beautiful it was also all very harrowing.

The kids almost fell in at a few parts and enjoyed playing with the toys left on other graves. It was a reminder of their innocence and ability to accept that death is just a fact of life. As we left my eyes were drawn to a gorgeous butterfly flitting from flower to flower – it made me smile briefly and feel strength.

After the Cemetery we returned to his family home for food and dessert and socialising with friends. It was important to me that it felt like a bit of a birthday party as she would never have one and also because I didn’t want a depressing afternoon.
10574337_10152538001045000_7504574307402757807_nWe had chosen to do Jacket potatoes which had been in the AGA all morning and my uncle made a HUGE pan of chilli to go with it. We then had provided and also asked people to bring desserts so had an immense amount of chocolate and cakes and general sugar overload…it was great and went well with the lovely drinks.
funeralThe day before we had made red tissue paper pom poms and hung them with a banner with her name on … I loved to see that and we kept it up at the house for a few days after. Also one of my besties had made a lovely Poppy seed Birthday cake for her – it was gorgeous and great thing she did for us.
1620609_10152538021970000_3693574221716563305_nIt was nice to see everyone talking and enjoying being with one another. It was nice to see friends and catch up, and it was touching to know how far some had travelled.
Afterwards Nath, his brothers and the kids played a bit of footy in the garden and life appeared to return to a normal scene.
We just had a small coffin top made by my sister – we went to Morrisons and chose a variety of pinks, whites and colourful fun flowery things which she beautifully arranged and laughed at too as they didn’t really go together but as it was what I wanted she went with it.
We then had a vase of red poppies on the stand at church that Naths mum had ordered for us and that was all – it was enough, not too extravagant or costly, just beautiful and subtle.
WP_20150922_13_50_02_ProAnd that was it.. it was over. Her brief encounter with us had passed and there we were, all the formalities of loosing a baby were over and it was time to get on with it..with what exactly? I wondered…Life? but what did that mean now? what was I to do? How would I survive it?

“Get through the first year and then you’ll be okay” seemed to be people’s views..all the 1sts and then life will be easier, but will It? I have made a year now. I am here. I have a check next to every anniversary and I am still sane and in an okay place. I am still finding joy in life, but guess what? It still hurts. I am still very much aware of what I have lost and today everything I try to do just seems a little insignificant when I think of the magnitude of what I was doing last year. I cried this morning as I sat at Ethan’s Welcome assembly as I realised how time has flown by, how special he is and how much of this I will miss in 3 years time when I remember again her burial and funeral instead of celebrating her starting school and a new chapter. How proud of him I felt, how beautiful the whole occasion and how positive it was to counteract that of last years 22nd of September events. But also a reminder of how much we will continue to realise we are missing with her and how special days are often tarnished by the memories of difficulty and loss.

*Special thanks to Nathans wonderful Cousin and her husband for capturing the funeral whilst on holiday from the states…I never realised how much Id want pictures of this day x


Purple stained hands and mouths I think are an essential part of childhood at this time of year.  I remember spending absolutely hours in the forest behind our home, with my sisters and giant ice cream tubs and filling them to the brim (mum must have loved it) and now whenever I smell black berries it takes me back to those days of adventure as a kid.
FullSizeRender (4)Unfortunately I also have memories that have tarnished this childhood glee of Blackberry picking and that is that it also reminds me of last year, when I was killing time before my due date with my parents. We went on a walk around a local park and lake and it turned into an unexpected blackberry loot (we all loved it)!
Whilst it was a lot of fun and extremely delicious, with the outcome of our pregnancy, it really has been hard these last few days to do the traditional seasonal activities that bring us joy; as the air, smell and everything about what we do, from shopping to church, to a spontaneous blackberry picking trip…all remind me of the anticipation of hopefully some life with our sick baby daughter and then the heartache of the loss of her when it never happened!

I knew I needed to do these things and I knew that I couldn’t let September roll by without taking the kids to get a massive bag of blackberries, purple stained mouths and clothes, and begin their own memories of the end of summer. I knew I had to make new memories for next year and whilst I felt alot of  fear, maybe anxiety, I just needed to do it.  And so we did it…
FullSizeRender (6)We went on Friday, the same day we released a balloon to mark the birthday of “Poppy’s Friend” Ishbel. I never met her, she passed away at 6 months also from Trisomy 18 almost 3 years ago. I only know of her through her wonderful family and to see a picture of her gorgeous face will certainly melt your heart. Her mother has become a great friend to me and has guided me a lot on my journey, and if she is anything like her mother then I know she would be looking out for our little Poppy too and they would be little heavenly buddies…at least the kids agree and thought she would love a princess balloon to play with…with Poppy! (Emotional!).
Happy Birthday IshbelAs I thought of and planned the best place to release the balloon, some woods where I used to go as a child came to mind. They are a little run down ill be honest, but they always seem peaceful too, and I remembered (from a couple of years ago) that they just so happen to have an abundance of blackberries free for the picking. I suggested it to Nathan and he agreed that it would be lovely.
FullSizeRender (3)Whilst my heart ached for both my loss and that of another family, I also smiled as the evening sun broke through after such a wet day. We laughed with the and at the kids, and we reminisced of childhood blackberry picking adventures. Both Ethan and Megan were going absolutely nuts at seeing SOOO many blackberries. They screamed, darted from here to there to show us where to pick from next and they ate so many their hearts and tummy’s were full!
FullSizeRender (5)SO many things about this time of year hurt – memories and emotions come flooding back as I go through the normal every day motions of parenthood and attempting to create adventure and new joyful memories for us, but I love that as always these moments of Joy and gladness do come. I love that we can remember the pain and anxiety, but also rejoice in the fun here and now and know she’s not too far away.

On good days I feel strong to face my fears of the season and being outdoors altogether is always very special. On good days I create, not just new happy memories for us all, but I make things that build my confidence and remind me what I can offer and do, I find joy again in the small things and remember what I am good at…even for a brief moment or 2!
WP_20150911_18_21_07_ProWhen did you last face a fear and turn it into a positive experience?