A grieving mother who found herself struggling with suicidal thoughts following the death of her parents turned to creativity to help her overcome depression. 

When bereavement hit Donna Gilliard, she began struggling with her mental health and relied on anti-anxiety medication to get through the day. 

But by tapping into her creative side – a gift instilled in her by her parents – she found comfort in the most unusual place. 

Eastern Daily Press: Donna Gilliard created "Pan" to overcome bereavement

The mother-of-three, of Calthorpe Close, Stalham, said: "The loss of my parents destroyed me. 

“I suffered from suicidal thoughts and struggled to be the happy, outgoing mum to my children that I knew I should be. 

READ MORE: Man celebrates 100th birthday as fortune teller's prediction comes true

"Creating things runs in my blood. 

“As a child, I was a talented artist after being taught by my father. I was also good at crafts, but perhaps one of my favorite things to do was to sew.  

Eastern Daily Press: Donna Gilliard created "Pan" to overcome bereavement

“My mum taught me to cross stitch, and we’d often spend time making simple dolls together out of old clothes.  

“It was these activities that I fell back on when I was going through my darkest moments.” 

And that is how Pan, a little, handmade doll, was born. 

Eastern Daily Press: Donna Gilliard with her sewing machine

Miss Gilliard started making dolls professionally after her mother died from cancer three years ago. Her father died unexpectedly in July last year with pneumonia. 

Previously she worked in pharmaceuticals and as an undertaker, before becoming a stay-at-home mother. 

She added: “Making dolls has helped me find my true self again, and to heal from the trauma of losing my parents, after so many years of struggling.” 

Eastern Daily Press: The start of "Pan"

Pan is based on a tinker fairy, which is a fairy who “tinkers” with objects to either fix them or turn them into something new. 

It was made from fabric and thrifted items Miss Gilliard found, purchased in charity shops, or was given by her parents, grandparents, and great-grandmother. 

Visit www.artdoll.co.uk for more information. 

Eastern Daily Press: Donna Gilliard created "Pan" to overcome bereavement

Eastern Daily Press: Donna Gilliard showing her baby "Pan"