Coventry University to honour inspirational mum for her work supporting bereaved parents

Donna and Bodie Hodges

Donna and Bodie Hodges

University news

Monday 13 November 2023

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A determined mum who turned the heart-breaking experience of losing a child into a charity helping bereaved parents is being 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.

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 has since gone from strength to strength and 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.

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.

In recognition of her work Donna will be presented with an Honorary Doctorate in Business Administration by Coventry University during a ceremony today (13th November).

Our son Bodie died in 2012, 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.

We’ve always taken a very professional, considered approach, carefully looking at areas where there are gaps in services and seeing what we can do to help.

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.

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.

Donna Hodges

Shona Green, Head of Academic Studies at CUC, nominated Donna for the award.

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.

Shona Green, Head of Academic Studies at CUC

Learn more about the Bodie Hodges Foundation.