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Coventry University honours inspirational Leicester mum for her work supporting bereaved parents

The founder of the Bodie Hodges Foundation shares where it all began.

Donna Hodges of the Bodie Hodges Foundation with family and Gemma Orton

A determined mum who turned the heartbreaking experience of losing a child into a charity helping bereaved parents has been recognised with an Honorary Doctorate from Coventry University.

In 2012, Donna and Nick Hodges’ ten-month-old son Bodie tragically died. But from that sorrow, the pair have worked tirelessly to support other families going through similar experiences across Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland. They went on to form the Bodie Hodges Foundation.

Donna said: “You just don’t know what the world of being a bereaved parent is like until it happens. Nick started to fundraise to keep Bodie’s name out there and it was key to the way he grieved. We found that we were actually quite good at fundraising so we set up the charity."

Donna carrying Bodie wearing winter outfits and smiling in a playground
Donna and Bodie Hodges

The Bodie Hodges Foundation was founded in 2013 and provides one-to-one bereavement counselling to families for the first two years after a child’s death, alongside bereavement peer support groups for parents and siblings.

The charity also runs a national scheme called Bodie’s Treasured Memory Bags for bereaved siblings, providing grief resources to children to encourage conversations about death, helping them to understand grief and to remember their sibling.

Donna of Bodie Hodges Foundation dressed in blue and gold gown and university cap holding a black scroll in front of a red curtain

In recognition of her work, Donna was presented with an Honorary Doctorate in Business Administration by Coventry University during a ceremony on Monday, November 13. “Being presented with an Honorary Doctorate from Coventry University is a massive honour, it was a real surprise and it’s come out of nowhere. It’s really special for the charity too, it’s recognition of everything that we have achieved over the past ten years and it’s an amazing thing to happen in this anniversary year, I feel very overwhelmed by it all.”

Now in its tenth year, the charity is close to completing a £450,000 charity fundraising campaign to buy its premises in Leicester, Bodie’s House, aiming to raise the remaining £19,000 needed by December.

“Today the foundation has nine staff and our main mission is simply to make sure bereaved families don’t feel isolated. For some families this is the only place where they can talk about their child who has died or say their name in a therapeutic space.

“We have an amazing team, it’s not easy working in this area, there’s a lot of trauma, but I’m blessed to have such great people around me."

Shona Green, Head of Academic Studies at CUC, nominated Donna for the award. She said: “I used to work as a nurse at Leicester Royal Infirmary and see a picture of Bodie’s face every time I walked in the building. It’s an awful thing to have happened but the determination Donna has shown to help other parents is amazing.

"She is just an incredible person and as an organisation like Coventry University helping students into the medical profession, Donna really does act as an inspiration.”

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