A caring Devon funeral director who set up a charity that helps families to deal with baby loss has been recognised with a national honour.
LeighAnne Wright, of Plympton, has been given a British Citizen Award for her services to volunteering and charitable giving.
LeighAnne, aged 38, has dedicated her life the baby bereavement charity, Little Things & Co, after starting it almost five years ago.
She got the idea after seeing a family struggle to arrange a funeral for their baby due to the fact that they couldn’t find any clothes small enough to fit his tiny body. LeighAnne set about hand-sewing a suitable outfit for him to allow the family to bury their child with dignity.
She soon realised that they were not unique in their plight and that the problem was affecting many families who had lost babies.
She now works tirelessly to ensure parents who have lost a baby are treated with respect and are supported emotionally and practically and is a voice for the often taboo subject of baby loss.
From initially being created to provide bespoke clothing for tiny babies who had died, LeighAnne soon expanded the charity’s services to include monthly support groups for grieving families. At least two of her group members credit the charity with saving their lives, after they had become suicidal with grief.
Little Things & Co now also provides practical items to other funeral directors, such as grave dressings and cribs to aid the suffering of anyone who has lost a child. Little Things & Co also produces literature giving baby bereavement advice to professionals.
Speaking about her nomination, LeighAnne said: “To say I was surprised about the award was an understatement. There’s such a need for the tiny clothes we provide and we must have sent thousands of outfits out over the years. I don’t make them myself any more, I have lots of lovely ladies that help.
“There’s also a greater need to talk about baby loss. It’s a taboo subject but when they’ve lost a baby, parents want an acknowledgement that their child existed. It hurts when someone crosses to the other side of the road because they don’t know what to say.
“When I left school, I wanted to be a funeral director but the careers adviser told me it wasn’t a job for a woman so I ended up becoming a jeweller. I did it for ten years but just wasn’t happy.
“I eventually joined a funeral directors as a secretary and worked my way up from there. I know I’m where I’m supposed to be now, I’ve found my calling and I feel very privileged to be able to help families when they are at their most desperate. It’s incredibly satisfying.”