Hollyoaks actress opens up on her own baby loss story after storyline mirrors her own experience

Kirsty-Leigh Porter has played Leela Lomax in Hollyoaks for more than ten years.

This week sees her become Leela Dexter as she marries her on screen boyfriend Joel Dexter, played by Rory Douglas-Speed - but there's heartache on the wedding night.

Our entertainment correspondent Caroline Whitmore met up with Kirsty- Leigh and Rory who play Leela and Joel on the Hollyoaks set, in the Lomax family living room.

The actress had a stillborn baby girl, Penny-Leigh, in 2018. Now her character is going through the same pain.

She said: "Yeah, if anyone was going to tell this story it was going to be me and it's a good way of trying to break the taboo and talk about baby loss"

"I suffered a loss. Even five years ago there wasn't much done to provide care for parents that are suffering a bereavement"

"When you watch the episodes," Rory explains, who plays Joel "people who have definitely experienced that are going to say finally they've shown that aspect of it. We've never seen this on TV before"

Joel is unable to hold his baby in one of the episodes of the popular soap Credit: Hollyoaks/E4

"There Is a particular scene where Joel is left with the baby and in the original scripts he picks up the baby and holds him" Kirsty- Leigh says "but we decided to change that at the last minute, that he is in so much shock that he is so beside himself that he couldn't even bring himself to hold his own son ,which is a very common reaction"

"I did my research" continues Rory "I looked at podcasts and different things about these men who felt defenseless and didn't know where to turn, didn't know who to speak to, didn't feel like they had any input because it's not them that has experienced the loss physically but mentally, they've lost everything. We thought it was so so powerful"

Kirsty-Leigh is now an ambassador for the Mariposa Trust.

"They've got six divisions of baby loss awareness. They help you at different stages of your loss. They were a lifeline to me when I lost Penny-Leigh, and they asked me to become an ambassador- I was so proud"

"And I just feel quite ready now to be able to do what I can to help the trust and to help people" She smiles

Kirsty-Leigh's little girl is now 3-years-old and thriving Credit: Kirsty-Leigh Porter

Now, Kirsty-Leigh is mother to a little girl.

"She's three. She's a rainbow baby. If you've suffered a loss, and you become pregnant again and you have a child, they're known as rainbow babies purely for the fact that after a storm comes a rainbow."And she's just brought a lot of happiness and healing to me, which is I guess what they do"

If you or someone close to you has experienced baby loss there are plenty of ways to get support.

  • Mariposa Trust - The Mariposa Trust is a leading support charity primarily working within the field of baby loss and bereavement.

  • Tommy's - The largest UK pregnancy and baby loss charity, funding research into stillbirth, premature birth and miscarriage and providing trusted pregnancy.

  • Sands - Sands exists to reduce the number of babies dying and to support anyone affected by the death of a baby, before, during or shortly after birth

  • The Lullaby Trust - The Lullaby Trust raises awareness of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), provides expert advice on safer sleep for babies and offers emotional support for bereaved families