Fix our Broken Justice System Victims’ Voice guest blog: Frankie Julia Hough – My soulmate, my peace, my queen
On May 13, 2023, Frankie Julia Hough, who was 17 weeks pregnant, was driving on the M66 in Greater Manchester, with her two sons and nephew in the car. The 38-year-old had a punctured tyre and pulled over on the hard shoulder to make a call.
Soon after, her vehicle was hit by a BMW being driven erratically by Adil Iqbal, who was seen weaving in between vehicles, dangerously undertaking and reaching speeds of up to 123mph.
He had been filming himself throughout the journey – holding the wheel with one hand and holding his phone with the other.
On July 19, 2023, he was jailed for just 12 years, for killing Frankie and seriously injuring her two children and her nephew. He was also banned from driving for just 13 years.
Since the tragic crash, Frankie’s heartbroken partner, Calvin Buckley, has joined forces with RoadPeace, the national charity for road crash victims, and is backing the Fix our Broken Justice Campaign, which was launched last month.
Here, in his own words, in the first of three guest blogs, he tells us who Frankie was and how her death, along with his unborn daughter Neeve, has crushed his world. And how he is determined to see changes made to our justice system, which is designed around the defendant’s rights, rather than the rights of victims and grieving families.
By Calvin Buckley
This is a true story, of how cruel life can be. A tragedy that led to devastation and pain.
This is their story. Two lives taken before their time in horrific circumstances. A daughter who never got to meet her father.
This is my story. An empty void that grows as each day passes.
This is a love story. That brings hope and strength to those suffering.
This is history. Time for changes to outdated laws, time for people to come together to Fix Our Broken Justice System.
Saturday the 13th of May 2023
I will never forget the day my life was flipped upside down – a family shattered into pieces, a future that collided with fate and crushed as my world came crashing down.
How I wish things could have been different. Franki Julia Hough, my Love, my soulmate, my peace, was tragically taken from this world on Monday 15th May 2023, after spending two days on life support carrying our unborn daughter Neeve with her. Franki suffered fatal brain injuries after a collision on the motorway. Franki had pulled over on the hard shoulder of the M66 due to a punctured tyre. Neeve, our daughter, was too young to sustain her own life without her mother.
They are the victims of a killer driver.
Victims of reckless and dangerous driving,
Victims of a growing problem in our society.
This is Franki and Neeve’s Story
This is your Story
This is our story
Frankie Julia Hough, born 2nd August 1984, got her name from her mother Julia and father Frank. Together they nurtured the most amazing, kind, caring and dignified woman. Forged with the spirits of her Irish and Portuguese ancestors, Franki was a fighter. Her introduction into the world comes with a sad sense of irony as it is the same way she left us.
In a hospital bed invaded with tubes and strapped up to monitors, sounding their monotonous beeping and unforgiving repetitive tone. Each beep was like the sound of a dripping tap. Beep, Beep, Beep, her life slowly dripped away. Franki made it through her first encounter with Fate; an unwelcome introduction to life and death. The world had plans for her, it needed Franki to go and sprinkle her fairy dust. To shine her light on those suffering in the darkness. To show us how to be all you can be.
Life is a stage
With talent in abundance, Franki was a talented musician, actress, singer and, in her words: “I was good at cross-country long-distance running.” This was never proven. Sport was not of much interest to her growing up. As a child, Franki was busy auditioning for TV shows, acting in plays and making a name for herself in the world of performing arts.
Unique and never afraid to be different or stand out from the crowd, her character took shape as she navigated her way through the jungle of school life. She had developed a strong sense of self and was never afraid to express that. This was expressed in the way she dressed, the music she listened to and, more importantly, the people she associated with. Always looking out for the underdog, advocating for those who dared to be different and rising above intolerant attitudes and abusers of power. Franki was very popular due to her kind, caring nature.
Blessed with a natural organic beauty, people would be mesmerized by the most hypnotic blue eyes that sparkled brighter than all the stars in the night’s skies. The most enchanting, warm smile that would glow and light up a room with the radiance of the summer sun. A Goddess living amongst men, a living angel. Dignified, graceful and majestic in her approach to life’s hardships. The trials and tribulations of life, Franki had to face like so many of us. She always did this with dignity and grace.
One of the most defining parts of Franki’s character was her Lionheart and the way she cared for and helped others when they were at their worst times. A campaigner for Women’s Aid and getting consent laws changed, Franki supported women and children’s survivors of domestic abuse and violence.
I will continue this work in Franki and Neeve’s name and I am in the process of setting up the Franki and Neeve Purple Heart Foundation, a charitable trust for services set up to support women and children’s survivors of domestic abuse and violence.
When all hope seemed to be lost, Franki would pick people up off the ground, by giving them hope and making them feel special and loved. By helping them find the strength to keep fighting, keep moving forward, and to keep smiling. By helping people to be the best version of themselves.
How we met
People would often ask us: how did we meet? Whenever we were asked this question, we would look at each gleefully as we reminisced about our first meeting. Our lives first crossed paths when we were in secondary school. Franki was the year below me. I don’t recall Franki in school, but she said she remembered me. I liked to tease her about how she had fancied me all these years.
My first memory of Franki is when she appeared in Hollyoaks. I was in sixth form college at the time, and everybody was talking about “the girl from Hollyoaks” who was joining our college. The image I had of Franki was her wearing a hat and a leather jacket. She had the rock chick, slightly alternative look about her. She wasn’t at college for a long time as she left to chase her dreams.
Thirty years later and a global pandemic brought us together.
Calm Holistic Living
During those uncertain times, we started talking on social media, Facebook to be exact. I remember the interaction started by liking and commenting on each other’s posts that we were sharing. We had similar views on what was going on in the world.
Franki had her own business, Calm Holistic Living. She was very successful in what she did. She would go the extra mile and customer satisfaction was very important to her. Being Franki, her business covered many things. Such as a cleaning service using non-toxic cleaning products which she sourced locally and made herself, she would go that extra mile to make her clients feel special by leaving notes and gifts. I like to think of her taking such pride in her cleaning and sprinkling her fairy dust so that their homes were blessed with a calm healing energy.
Franki was also a Reiki therapist. People often commented that they felt so much better after having Reiki with Franki. The atmosphere she created was one of love and serenity.
A Date with Fate
Franki made her own organic and ethically produced products. I was really impressed and decided to treat myself to one of the healing boxes she made. It contained crystals, some handmade soy wax melts, some sage, lavender and some positive affirmation cards. I still have the box to this day.
Much to my surprise, Franki hand-delivered her healing boxes. I can picture her now. It was a sunny day. She had a black vest top on and denim shorts. Wearing sunglasses that I liked to call her Hollywood ones.
I was in awe of her beauty and her smile. I could feel myself getting nervous trying to keep cool. Her youngest son was with her, he was a baby at the time. She handed me the healing box and we spoke for a bit. When she went, I remember thinking I needed to see her again.
I gave it a few hours before I messaged her and asked if she wanted to meet up and go for a walk at Dovestones Reservoir. Franki said yes and the rest is history. We both spoke about how we felt the chemistry and spark between us the day. It was our favourite conversation. A beautiful memory. It was love at first sight.
Nothing made her smile more than being a devoted mother to her boys. When I met Franki, she had two sons. It was clear that her priority in life was now being the best mother she could be. Both boys are a testament to how they had been nurtured and cared for by a great mum. A mother who gave her everything and her life to them, up until her final breath.
We spoke about having our own child one day and decided to let fate take its course. I am sole carer for my nephew, who has autism. Franki treated him like he was one of her own. He loved her, the way she understood him and gave him her warm smile. We had a challenge on our hands merging our families into one big happy family. We often laughed at the challenges we had to face but knew we could get through anything together.
After our first family holiday in Wales, we saw how it could work and the strength of our family bond. All that was missing was our own child and finding our family home. On the 26th of January 2023, the week after I had turned 40, I found out I was going to be a dad, that me and Franki would be having a child together. This was the best birthday present I could ever wish for.
The week before Franki was killed, we had organised a gender reveal and invited our closest friends and family to come and celebrate with us. We were expecting our first child and wanted to share our special moment. Franki already had two sons and was hoping that we would be having a girl.
When she found out she was having a daughter, she was over the moon with joy. Feeling blessed that she was getting the opportunity to be a mother to our daughter. Our life was almost complete. This was one of the happiest and proudest days of my life. I was living it with the woman I loved. The woman who I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. Franki, my soulmate, my peace, my queen. We couldn’t wait to meet our princess. All our focus was going into finding our family home and planning our future.
The day before the incident we had the perfect evening together. I cooked us a nice meal and we stayed up talking late. We spoke about our future and choosing a name for our daughter. The name we picked was Neeve. Franki didn’t want it spelled the Irish way, ‘Niamh,’ as she didn’t want people to pronounce our daughter’s name incorrectly.
Celebration of Life
On the day of the fatal collision, Franki was driving back from Bury Arcade Club with her eldest son (nine-years-old), her youngest son (four-years-old) and nephew (two-years-old). It was my brother’s birthday earlier in the week and we had planned a day at the Arcade Club.
In my last moments with Franki that day, I gave her a kiss, said goodbye, and told her that I loved her like I always did and off she went. Then, 20 minutes later, I received a phone call that would change the course of our lives forever.
Updated on: 10 October 2023