Frankie Brunker, who lives in Stamford, is the author of a picture book that helps families explain the death of a baby to children. These Precious Little People is a book that explains in honest but gentle language how and why babies die during pregnancy or soon after birth, and touches on the impact this can have on those left mourning them. It has been designed so that anyone in need of it can use this book as a way to provide a more positive focus during times of grief – to bring comfort but also help them remember a precious part of their family with love and pride. "I write from experience as sadly my first-born daughter Esme died unexpectedly less than two weeks away from her due date and no explanation could be found for her stillbirth. Young nephews, a niece and cousin in our families needed to be told the tragic news, and it was very difficult to know how to guide everyone through what was a confusing and upsetting time. My instinct was to turn to a picture book to help, and I was inspired to write one myself when I struggled to find one suitable. I wanted something that used straightforward & honest language, imagery that reflected our situation and beliefs, but most of what was available back then just didn’t feel ‘right’, or good enough. Joel The Complete Package supported my vision to create my own and agreed to fund the illustration costs. I was lucky to connect with an experienced, incredibly talented and generous illustrator, Gillian Gamble, who supported my dream and helped bring These Precious Little People to life. All profits from sales of the book are returned to Joel The Complete Package, a Midlands-based charity that have offered enormous support to me since Esme died. Esme's siblings Jago, aged 5, and Ayla, aged 2, have been brought up knowing about the 'big' sister they were never able to meet. Every day getting to watch them grow up is full of joy and gratitude, but it can be incredibly bittersweet seeing them reach milestones that Esme was never able to - the grief of losing her never goes away. Embarking on trying for another baby, pregnancy after loss, and parenting after loss have all tested my mental health to the limit over the past six years, and being able to reach out to fellow bereaved parents through the Joel The Complete Package Facebook group and connecting with people who have been through similar experiences has been a real lifeline. I now volunteer for them as a 'Buddy', offering support to others. Running has also helped enormously. I was never particularly sporty at school, but have found running a great boost for my confidence as well as my mental and physical health over the years. I'm certainly quite a way off matching my husband's feat of two marathons (Brighton and London) within a fortnight to raise money for Tommy's, but I have taken on numerous sponsored physical challenges over the years, many in honour of Esme. I was fortunate to be able to tackle the Great North Run some time ago, and have also completed the Hellrunner and other obstacle races including the Kamikaze Run and Survival of the Fittest races in the past, but my knees have decided that a steady 10km is probably more my limit. At the moment I'm much more comfortable running 5km distances along with keeping up with my son on his bike and chasing after my youngest on her scooter on the daily school run. This year I’m embarking on another 100km 'Running for Rainbows' challenge to help raise money for Joel The Complete Package and I'm so pleased to be able to meet up with Lucy for our 5k Friday run at Graham Water to help us chalk up more miles during January. I have recently started volunteering for a local baby loss support charity in Stamford, Alternatives, and would love to succeed in starting up a Rainbow Running Club here to offer more in the way of peer support in the town - we are hoping to organise a meet up soon.
Knowing the benefits that running has brought to my life in terms of managing my stress, anxiety, depression, as well as it helping restore faith in my physical abilities, I am passionate about helping others find a community of people that encourages each other to keep putting one foot in front of the other, no matter how tough the journey gets.”