Comedian and broadcaster Kelly Ford was 15 when she lost her mum Jill to ovarian cancer.
After becoming a mother herself 21 years later, Kelly found the only person she really wanted to hear from was Jill.
“There were a lot of questions about parenting and motherhood that only, really, my mum could answer,” Kelly told the Recorder.
“I was expecting my second baby in lockdown and I thought, wouldn’t it be an amazing opportunity to speak to other mums mumming it without a mum and find out about their stories?”
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Her new podcast The Motherless aims to start a positive conversation about parenting and grief and to create a safe communal space for people looking for support and information.
Kelly said when reaching out to people about the loss of their mums and how it has impacted their parenting, it became clear there was a real desire for that type of content.
“It feels like there is a big need to hear these voices because there are many people that are mothering without a mother – and it’s a big job being a mum,” she said.
The launch series of five episodes speaks to a diverse range of women who lost their mums at different stages of the lives and had varied relationships with them.
“The responses have been incredible – just people getting in touch and telling me their story and in a sense a solidarity that I didn’t realise was going to be the result of this series,” Kelly said.
“I think if we reach one woman alone, at home, dealing with all that brain confetti us mums do deal with – everything from has Johnny got the right shoes to needing to book a dental appointment – but also managing grief, then this series is doing something incredibly positive.”
Kelly has been broadcasting in radio and podcasts for about eight years and feels the loss of her mother had subtly informed a lot of her previous work.
This work includes The Everything Project, in which she talked to people about a range of life experiences including grief.
“(The Motherless) has been quite an amazing experience because I’ve been able to remember my own mummy in the process,” Kelly said.
“That has been lovely – obviously there’s a touch of sadness because I’d love her to be around.
“It has been something quite emotive for me to do but actually also really positive because I think I’ve needed to do it for some time.
“Lockdown is a good excuse to get on with stuff that is kind of lingering.”
The launch series features comedian and broadcaster Hatty Ashdown, stylist and broadcaster Grace Woodward, finance executive Nneka Cheese, businesswoman Carly Moosah and influencer Ola Pelovango.
Kelly, who hinted there may be a second series, felt the podcast was not just for mums but anyone who is experiencing grief or has ever lost a loved one, or who enjoys hearing real-life stories.
“It’s giving a platform to hear these accounts of mums’ resilience and strength in their daily lives,” Kelly said.
“They’re real-life accounts, they’re touching and moving and the bravery of the contributors is astounding.
“Some of these women haven’t spoken about some of the things we discussed ever, so it took a lot of strength from the contributors to make the show what it is.”
The Motherless is available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and AudioBoom.
The series is currently airing on online station Soho Radio’s culture channel on Tuesdays from 9am-10am.