The heartbroken parents of a little boy who was born prematurely at Burton hospital before he sadly died, are keeping his legacy alive after donating Leo’s Library so that other bereaved parents can read to their little ones and create precious memories.

On June 5 last year, the lives of Jessica Marten Gillmor, 34, and Jeffrey, 33, were turned upside down when their son Leo was born at just 23 weeks.

The married couple, who are from Burntwood, were forced to say goodbye too early to their little boy, who weighed a tiny 1lb 2oz, and died in their arms after living for just a moment.

However, thanks to the support of staff in the hospital’s Snowdrop suite, the duo was able to spend precious time with their new addition, which sparked a fund-raising drive and the creation of a special library, in honour of Leo.

Leo’s nana Eve Chang, 63, said the couple had endured struggles to get pregnant and used IVF to get pregnant with Leo.

She said: "Jessica was pregnant with Leo, her first child when she started bleeding on and off at around 22 weeks. At that point Leo was still alive but we were very concerned.

"Looking back now it seems that Jessica went into premature labour a few weeks earlier but it wasn’t picked up until a few days before he was born.

The Snowdrop Suite caters to grieving parents with a variety of services

"Jessica had an infection of the placenta so premature labour was inevitable. Even if she hadn’t gone into premature labour Leo would have died and Jessica may have too because she was developing sepsis."

For the new parents, Eve said one of the hardest things was thinking about all the things they would not be able to do, such as read their little one a book.

Mrs Chang, also of Burntwood, said: "They spent some time in the Snowdrop suite at Burton’s Queen’s Hospital and it was lovely. The midwives really cared for them and it made a massive difference to their experience.

"One thing Jessica had always talked about and envisaged was being able to read to her baby and when the mist started to clear it was that which caused her pain. In the days before the funeral she and Jeffrey went and they read to Leo. Then they put the book they read into his coffin and kept a duplicate of the same book for themselves.

"It is another memory and there are so few at that time that it really helped."

The experience inspired Jessica, who is a surgeon at the Royal University Hospital in Stoke and Jeffrey, an electrical engineer, to help other parents going through the same grief and she came up with the idea for Leo’s Library.

Mrs Chang, a retired teacher, said: "Parents benefit from doing the same things with their baby who has passed away, that they would do if they were alive and after realising that there were no children’s books in the suite they decided to supply them so that parents can have the option to read to their babies like they did."

The duo, have so far provided the unit with 40 books and also provide duplicate copies of the books so that parents can give one to baby and keep one for themselves if they choose.

Duplicate copies of the books are available so grieving families can keep a copy after giving one to their child

Mrs Chang added: "Nobody ever expects to be in that situation but Leo’s Library has helped them focus on Leo’s legacy. We set it up as a charitable trust and in the weeks after Leo died we raised £2,500. We donated £1,800 to the Snowdrop suite and the rest to 'For Louie' which provides the memory boxes in the suite for bereaved parents to take home.

"This can keep going for as long as we can supply the books and Jessica and Jeffrey have created a wishlist on Amazon where people can donate books in Leo’s memory - some might like to do it in memory of a child or grandchild so hopefully it will have a snowball effect and help many people get the opportunity Jessica and Jeffrey did."

Speaking on a website set up in aid of Leo’s library, Jessica and Jeffrey wrote: "There is no real way to describe the pain and silence that fills your life when your baby dies. Thanks to the wonderful midwifery team at Queens Hospital, Burton, we were able to spend precious time with our baby boy. We had chance to bond as a family before we had to say goodbye.

"As with many bereaved parents we had no warning of what was about to happen and no idea how we would navigate the aftermath of his death. One thing that we remember is the aching desire to read our son a story. To do what we had dreamt of doing for so long as Mum and Dad. Sadly there were none in the hospital suite and we didn't think to ask anyone to find some.

"We wanted to be able to stop other families having this regret. Along with our fantastic family and friends we have set up a small charity to deliver books to our local hospital bereavement suite. We hope with books available other families may be encouraged to read to their loved ones and share in a moment no parents should miss out on.

"In time we would like to extend Leo's library to other hospitals around the UK, wherever they may be needed. We hope his library will be a way to keep his memory alive and keep him very much part of our lives."

To find out more or to add your favourite children’s story book to Leo’s library, visit: