'She is still part of our lives' - Couple's tribute to baby daughter

Lucy and Lewis Brooker remembering their daughter, Poppy

Lucy and Lewis Brooker remembering their daughter, Poppy - Credit: Denise Bradley/Archant 2022

It is grief that all parents hope they never have to go through.

But for a Norwich couple, having to terminate their unborn baby following a routine 20-week scan became their reality. 

What began as a happy occasion, quickly turned into an upsetting experience when Lewis Brooker and his wife Lucy were told their daughter was not compatible with life. 

At the 12-week scan, everything appeared to be normal, but following the second scan baby Poppy Jean Brooker was diagnosed with a rare form of the condition occipital encephalocoele – believed to be only the third in the country at the time. 

This defect is a malformation of the skull and can be manifested as swelling within the brain.

Memory items for baby Poppy Brooker

Memory items for baby Poppy Brooker - Credit: Denise Bradley/Archant 2022

Despite receiving immediate care from specialists at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, Mrs Brooker had no other option but to have a termination for medical reasons, known as a TFMR. 

The couple, who married in 2010, both welcomed and said goodbye to their daughter on October 28, 2011. 

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At the time they were already parents to their toddler, Scarlett, now aged 12. The tot had been getting ready to become an older sister to her “baby duck”. 

It has been more than a decade since that day but Mr Brooker still feels the impact of that moment. 

“It really does not feel like it happened that long ago,” the 40-year-old said. 

“At the time, it was devastating but we came together to support each other. We are a strong unit. 

“At the scan, the diagnosis was not something we expected to hear. It’s just not the news we expected to happen. It came crashing down on us. 

“Even though it happened in 2011, the memories are still there and will always stay with us. 

“It is something that we, as a couple, do not shy away from talking about with people. Poppy is part of our lives.” 

The couple went on to have two more children; Willow, nine, affectionately called a rainbow baby – a term given to a child born after baby loss – and Tilly, five.

Each has a special teddy to remember their sister.

Lucy and Lewis Brooker remembering their daughter, Poppy

Lucy and Lewis Brooker remembering their daughter, Poppy - Credit: Denise Bradley/Archant 2022

Mrs Brooker, 37, added: “When you tell people, they often don’t know what to say. They usually say how sorry they are or tell us they don’t know what the best thing to say is.  

“We are advocates of talking about it though and would love others to reach out if they need to talk about it too.” 

Now, Mr Brooker is fundraising for Sands – the stillbirth and neonatal death charity – to raise awareness of the work of the charity. 

He challenged himself to complete 20 runs in 2020, but had to put the fundraiser on hold due to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Lewis Brooker in training for 20 runs in 2020 to raise funds for the charity, stillbirth and neonata

Lewis Brooker in training for 20 runs in 2020 to raise funds for the charity, stillbirth and neonatal death (Sands), as his baby daughter Poppy Brooker died 2011 - Credit: Denise Bradley/Archant 2022

He managed to complete three races before lockdown hit but was able to resume racing in June 2021. He has so far completed 17 and increased his target to 25 races. He will finish with his first marathon at the end of this year on December 4. 

He said: “I would love to be able to raise a significant amount more money for Sands, a charity close to my heart. 

“I am grateful for all the sponsorship I have received already.  

“The support of friends and family so far, including running alongside me on occasions, has been fabulous and I have enjoyed my journey immensely despite some times of challenging conditions."

Memory items for baby Poppy Brooker, who was born in 2011

Memory items for baby Poppy Brooker, who was born in 2011, with her dad, Lewis's training shoes as he runs to raise funds for charity, stillbirth and neonatal death (Sands) - Credit: Denise Bradley/Archant 2022

  • To leave a donation for Mr Brooker, visit the Just Giving page at justgiving.com/fundraising/lewis-brooker2020.
  • Sands is the leading stillbirth and neonatal death charity in the UK and aims to reduce the number of babies dying. It also aims to ensure that anyone affected by the death of a baby receives the best possible care and support for as long as they need it.
  • To pay tribute to a loved one email norfolktributes@archant.co.uk 
  • To read more obituaries and tributes join the Facebook group Norfolk's Loved & Lost