Lucyanne Harris celebrated three things this year: the arrival of her third child, her daughter Bea’s third birthday and winning a Bliss award for fundraising in memory of her son Freddie. In this article first published in Little Bliss magazine, she explains how opening a Bliss Precious Star Fund helped her cope with her loss and celebrate the life of her son.
In December 2013, Lucyanne gave birth to twins Freddie and Bea at Leeds General Infirmary. Born at 24 weeks gestation they both weighed 700g. Sadly, due to complications during his birth, Freddie died when he was six days old. Twin sister Bea left hospital three months later, weighing 2.5kg and is now a thriving two year old.
It was after raising £800 from friends and family at Freddie’s funeral that Lucyanne and her husband Ben set up the Freddie Harris Precious Star Fund.
"When you've lost a child so young, you lose all the things you could do for them, so it helped with the loss to be able to do something for Freddie. It was a helpful way to think of Freddie and acknowledge him on his birthday and the anniversary of his death, but it also seemed to be helpful for our friends and family too.
“To do something in Freddie’s name gave him a way of existing in the wider world. People didn’t know how to talk about Freddie, but talking about fundraising and why we were doing it made people realise that we were okay to talk about Freddie and didn’t want to forget him.”
Lucyanne had given to charity before, but hadn’t fundraised very much. She found the target of £5,000 for a star dedication from Bliss a useful goal.
“It felt like a challenge that I could do for him. I was giving back to Bliss, which had been such a support for us, but also making it better for other people who find themselves in this awful situation.”
Friends and family, including Freddie’s grandparents and aunts and uncles joined in to help achieve the star dedication. Freddie’s grandparents organised a barbecue and sold crafts and his aunt did a 10k run.
“People want to join in and do something, it helps them show their support without having to have the awkward conversation.”
Matchfunding from both Ben and Lucyanne’s employers also helped them reach their target. “It’s all about being cheeky and just asking. And because it’s something I’m doing for Freddie, it pushes me on. When it’s a personal story, people seem to want to give more. It touches their hearts a little bit.”
Support from Bliss was important for the fundraising too. “It’s a lot easier to talk to people who really understand. The leaflets from Bliss raised huge awareness at our events about how common prematurity is and how many people are affected by it. There is a comfort in knowing you’re not the only person that this happens to and you’re not isolated in the way you feel.
“The cliché about time healing is true. It’s never going to feel any better but it does get easier to deal with as time goes on. You start to be able to remember with happy memories rather than overwhelming sadness.”
Last summer Freddie’s Precious Star Fund reached £10,000 and Lucyanne was able to open a Sunshine Fund in celebration of Bea. “I wanted Bea to have something too, I didn’t want her to feel she’s in the shadow of this ‘perfect’ child who didn’t make it. It meant there was something for both of them.”
When a Sunshine Fund reaches a total of £1,000 Bliss has a tree planted as a thank you. Lucyanne organised a tree dedication for both twins and the family visited the woodland on their birthday on 2 December.
“The tree is a lovely way to remember Freddie as it can grow and live on. ”Freddie’s star dedication is on the wall in their home, it’s so nice to see his name written down and it tells other people that we’re okay to talk about him.”
Bea has now caught up on all her major milestones. “We’re out of the woods with her now and the fundraising in memory of Freddie helps him live on too.”
Bliss was delighted to award Lucyanne Harris the Bliss making a difference: fundholder award in July in recognition of her commitment and amazing fundraising achievement.
Lucyanne has since given birth to her third child, Felix Arthur Harris on 2 September, just two days before his due date and weighing 8lb 8oz.
If you have been affected by this article or would like to talk to someone about baby loss and bereavement, please call the Bliss helpline 0808 801 0322.
If you would like to find out more about Bliss Precious Star or Sunshine Funds, call 020 7378 5740 or email email@example.com