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Burying babies with dignity

267. LeighAnne Hedges

A funeral director who was so moved by the distress faced by families of deceased premature babies who found it impossible to buy clothes small enough to bury their children she set up an organisation to make special clothes for them.

10 Downing Street

Having also lost a baby herself, LeighAnne Hedges, 36, from Plymouth, recognised a need for smaller clothes for babies who had passed away during pregnancy.

When parents came to her in March 2013, distraught because their premature son had died and they had no clothes to lay him to rest in, she was so moved she went home that evening and made a small vest for him. That was the starting point for LeighAnne founding Little Things, a not-for-profit organisation to provide parents with clothes for their babies who are so small that shop bought clothing is too big for them. LeighAnne, who works as a funeral director, passionately believes that every child, regardless of size should be dressed with dignity.

Since Little Things began, Leigh Anne and her team of volunteers have helped over 3,000 families, not only in the UK, but across the globe. Since 2013, the organisation has grown with twenty volunteers now creating made to measure items for grieving parents which are sent as far as Australia, New Zealand and China. Locally, Little Things supports Derriford Hospital in Plymouth and other hospitals across the UK including Birmingham and Great Ormond Street, supplying them with hundreds of handmade clothes.

Accompanying each item is a booklet made by LeighAnne which offers words of advice to parents on how they can make the most of the time with their babies and create memories. The organisation has grown so rapidly LeighAnne now holds a monthly support group for local families and is nearing completion of a Memorial Garden specifically for babies and children gone too soon, within the grounds of Derriford Hospital.

Prime Minister David Cameron said:

“Losing a child is one of the most heart-breaking experiences a parent can go through. To find that you aren’t able to clothe your baby and bury them with dignity can only make things even more unbearable. The comfort LeighAnne’s specially made clothes offer to grieving parents is invaluable. Thanks to her work setting up Little Things, thousands of families have been able to bury their children with dignity, offering some comfort as they grieve. LeighAnne is very deserving of her Point of Light award today.”

LeighAnne Hedges said:

“To receive the news I had won a Point of Light award was a complete shock and I was in disbelief to begin with. “I have an amazing team who work tirelessly and this is really an award for all of them too.  To receive the award from Prime Minister Cameron is extra special as he too has suffered the agonising pain of losing a child.  It makes it more poignant that he understands and has recognised the work we do.”

MP for Plymouth Johnny Mercer said:

“It is fantastic that LeighAnne has been recognised for her heartfelt and truly selfless devotion to being there for some parents who suffer the unimaginable pain of losing a baby. We are privileged to have people like this in Plymouth; I am deeply proud that LeighAnne is in my Constituency and I am indeed humbled by her example.”

The daily Points of Light award recognises outstanding individual volunteers - people who are making a change in their community.

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