A MOTHER whose first baby was stillborn has created a novel calendar to raise funds to help other parents.

Annika Dowson, who lives in Helmsley with her husband James, brought family, friends and colleagues together to model for the calendar in aid of Scarborough Hospital's £120,000 Snowdrop Appeal.

Many of the models, who adopted 'Calendar Girls' poses, had suffered the loss of a child or were unable to have children of their own.

Annika and James started their fundraising campaign after their daughter, Gypsy, was stillborn at the hospital on October 30, 2008, at 39 weeks.

The couple, who now have a three-year old son, Nathanial, have so fair raised £5,545 and hope to hit £10,000 by the end of this year.

Annika said the idea for the calendar started as a joke on Christmas Day last year.

"It sprung us into action with the ‘Breaking the Silence’ calendar, it was an idea that would get other people who have been affected by stillbirth or loss involved, as well as raising awareness of the taboo subject of stillbirth," she added.

"We have adopted the phrase ‘Breaking the Silence’ as this is our ultimate aim – to enable people to talk about their feelings and loss of a child through stillbirth, miscarriage or soon after birth. "

Annika said: "With this end in mind we created the calendar which is made up of photographs of people who for a wide range of reasons have been affected either directly or indirectly, They have been willing to ‘bare all’ to support us in reaching our goals."

In many of the photographs, modesty has been preserved through the use of balloons as Annika said that many families release balloons to commemorate milestones and anniversaries.

"I want people to know that even though we can be sad about our lost children, we are still human and we can have fun," she added.

"Losing Gypsy was the most heart breaking time of my life I could ever imagine. I was vulnerable, I was sad, I was scared, I’d never felt so alone. In the few years after losing Gypsy in 2008, I have learnt that it’s ok to smile again and it’s ok to be happy, so getting naked is pretty similar."

Annika said: "I’m not the smallest of ladies, so there is the vulnerable side, the scared side, and even felt a little alone. But it was fun to do and the smiles have grown throughout the making of this calendar. The biggest similarity is being proud, I was, and still am, proud of my daughter.”

Her friend Annabel Robinson, who appears as 'June', said: “When I first heard about the calendar I did secretly hope that Annika would ask me to take part and I’m so pleased that she did.

"Not only me but my wonderful fiancé Lee too. We lost our angel in June 2011 and this fabulous cause is something close to our hearts.

She added: "We are so proud to have been a part of this and have met some great people along the way.”

The calendar is on sale in Pickering at Something for the weekend Sir?, Sams Hair Boutique and Taylors of Pickering as well as the Coop, Libby Butler Jewellers, Eiljah Todds Newsagents and Sugared Butterfly Café in Helmsley.

Annika said she would like to thank Stuart Ware Photography in Scarborough.

" He donated hours and hours of his time for this calendar without any charge and I would also like to thank Hope Print in Pickering for their help with printing."

Annika's next fundraiser, where the calendar will also be available, is a summer craft fair in Helmsley town hall on August 17.