Parents of children born prematurely in the Observer area will have their lives made a little easier, thanks to the generous efforts of our readers.
We launched our Cots for Tots at Christmas appeal on December 1 to raise cash to fund hydraulically-operated cots for the neo-natal unit at St Richard’s Hospital in Chichester.
And the response has been so overwhelming, we’ve gathered enough cash to buy three special £1,375 cots for the unit which cares for hundreds of babies each year.
Many people dug deep and helped to boost the total to £3,115.86, from the pound coins taped to Christmas cards and dropped off at our offices in Chichester and Bognor Regis to the generous donations from the Chichester Sands group.
And the Friends of Chichester Hospitals, who helped launch the festive campaign, have stepped in to boost the coffers.
The appeal clearly touched readers’ hearts: as well as giving cheques and cash, kind residents knitted blankets, booties and cardigans, and donated prams, sterilising equipment and babygros. This week we handed over the bundles of clothing and bedding to grateful staff at the unit.
Zita Warren, sister at the neo-natal unit said: “We are all so, so grateful to everyone who donated to the appeal. Thanks to the generosity of so many Observer readers we will be able to buy three new cots, and they will make life so much easier for our parents, and our staff.
“We have been overwhelmed by the response, not only from those who gave money, but also those who donated clothes for newborn babies, and the buggies. Thank you to everyone.”
With the help of the Friends of Chichester Hospitals, we identified the items most useful to support the neo-natal unit, after parents and staff there told us how important the adjustable cots are.
The unit, which provides special care for up to 12 babies, currently only has four of the special cots, which are not funded by the NHS. But for parents spending hours at their tot’s bedside, or for staff who can spend long periods of time tube-feeding or changing babies, being able to raise or lower the cot is a great help.
Jane Ramage, chair of the Friends of Chichester Hospitals, said the group was thrilled with its success. “The Friends are delighted by the result of the Observer appeal and have been very pleased to be linked to it,” she said. “Maternity and neo-natal services are so important to the community and that has been shown by the popularity of the appeal.”
Observer group editor Colin Channon was full of praise for readers. “The response was just fantastic,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if you gave £50 or 50p: it all added up in the end.”