A MOTHER whose first baby was stillborn has come up with a way of helping other parents.

Annika Dowson is creating a calendar to raise money for Scarborough Hospital’s Snowdrop Appeal.

Annika, who lives in Helmsley with husband James, is helping to raise £120,000 for a bereavement suite at Scarborough Hospital’s maternity unit.

Annika and James’ daughter, Gypsy, was stillborn at the hospital on October 30, 2008, at 39 weeks.

“Once I knew Gypsy had died, I was taken to the labour ward and put in a room at the end of the corridor. It was basic and, due to its location, I could hear other women in labour and their babies crying,” said Annika.

“This was such a hard thing to deal with when I knew that it wasn’t going to be the same for me and that my baby would not scream, but be born silent.”

The couple, who now have a three-year old son, Nathanial, supported the Snowdrop Appeal last year by completing a four-day sponsored walk. They raised more than £4,000 and hope to hit £10,000 by the end of this year.

For her latest fundraiser she has enlisted the help of friends and family, who will be posing with red heart-shaped balloons.

“It started as a joke at Christmas when mum bought my dad a ‘foxy hunter’ charity calendar and it was suggested that I could do something similar,” she said. “I already have 10 people on board.

“I chose balloons because on special days to remember Gypsy we always let a balloon go, so they tie in with loss, but hope as well.

“The fundraising is a way of helping me cope with what has happened while also helping others in similar situations.”

Annika said since she started fundraising she had been contacted by numerous families who wanted to share their stories.

“It is important that people can talk about it if they want to and know that there are people out there who they can talk to because that helped me.”

Annika’s friend Kerrianne Linning, who also lives in Helmsley, will be one of the people posing in the calendar.

Kerrianne’s first baby is due in March, but is suffering from gastroschisis, a defect of the abdominal wall and will have to endure a major operation after birth.

She and her partner, Tom Toase, discovered something was wrong when they went for the 13-week scan. Kerrianne said: “I was panicking all night and fearing the worst.”

The couple were told that their baby would have to be born before it reached full-term and would require an operation within four hours of birth.

“At first it was quite overwhelming and we were pretty devastated. It really does make you value life and how it can be compromised,” she said. “I do feel a lot more positive now and I have met the surgeons and staff at Leeds where the baby will be born, which has helped.”

Kerrianne met Annika when they both worked at the Co-op in Helmsley. She said. “I find her quite inspirational and she has been really supportive through my pregnancy.”

Kerrianne said they had been uncertain whether it was appropriate to feature a pregnant women in the calendar.

“We thought about it and decided it was also a symbol of hope and we were doing the calendar for everyone to give people hope,” she said.

Businesses who would like to sponsor the calendar and photographers who would like to be involved can email Annika at gypsysnowdrop@yahoo.co.uk