We held our 'thank you' event on 14 July, to thank some of the outstanding supporters who have made major differences to our work.
The event, held at the Stratford-upon-Avon Home and Garden Show, started with a lovely afternoon tea, before some of Bliss' biggest supporters were acknowledged during an awards ceremony. Awards were given to a wide variety of Bliss supporters, from volunteers to fundraisers to healthcare professionals.
The full list of award winners is as follows:
Making a difference award: Lisa Leppard, Family Care Sister from Princess Anne Hospital
The Princess Anne Hospital in Southampton became the first in the UK to gain official Bliss Baby Charter accreditation for its family-centred care for premature and sick babies, following a two-year process of audit, action and evaluation.
Championing babies’ voices award: Emma Gooding-Brown
Emma’s son Cameron, now seven years old, was born 16 weeks early, spending the first four months of his life in hospital. For the past three years, Emma has channelled the wealth of experience she gained as the parent of a premature baby by volunteering as a parent representative on the neonatal network for Yorkshire and Humber.
Corporate partner award: Yvonne McCormack from AIG
When AIG – where Yvonne works as Head of Account Management for Trade Credit – ran a charity auction at an annual industry black tie dinner, she suggested they hold it in aid of Bliss, after having two premature babies herself. The dinner raised over £13,500. Last year, Yvonne and four AIG colleagues raised over £3,000 at a fundraising abseil, and a special Bake for Bliss cake sale has also been held at AIG’s Fenchurch Street offices.
Events fundraiser award: Marie Bailey
Mum of four, Marie’s daughter Lily was born three months early in 2006, spending nine weeks being cared for in hospital. Marie received support through Bliss’ leaflets, information online and the Bliss helpline. Marie has been fundraising for Bliss since 2008, raising over £15,000 for Bliss in the last 12 months alone through events like her annual fundraising evening, Lily’s Ball.
Making a difference – Fundholder award: Lucyanne Harris
Lucyanne’s twins Bea and Freddie were born at 24 weeks gestation in 2013. Sadly, Freddie died after six days. When friends and relations asked how they could remember Freddie at his funeral, Lucyanne and her husband Ben decided to set up a Bliss Precious Star fund in Freddie’s name, which has raised over £12,000 to date.
Special dedication to families award: Georgia Melbourne
Georgia Melbourne’s daughter – who is now four years old – was born prematurely at 28 weeks gestation. Georgia subsequently suffered postnatal depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, for which she was only able to access support once she was at home with her daughter. Georgia became a Bliss volunteer 18 months ago, after resolving to ensure no parent locally would have to remain unsupported after giving birth to a premature or sick baby.
Special dedication to families award: Catherine Miles
Catherine Miles has been a Bliss volunteer for three years, after she gave birth at 26 weeks to her son Harry, spending three months with him on the neonatal intensive care units of local hospitals. Harry is now five and a half years old, and Catherine supports Bliss in lots of ways. She runs a Bliss family support group in Bristol providing practical and emotional support to families across the city and as far away as Swindon, volunteers at a local neonatal unit and has organised fundraising events for Bliss.
Advancing care through research award: Professor Lelia Duley, Director of the Nottingham Clinical Trials Unit at the University of Nottingham
Professor Lelia Duley has led pioneering research looking at the early care for very premature babies, including pioneering care at birth for very premature babies being carried out beside the mother, as well as research to find out when is the most beneficial time to clamp the baby’s umbilical cord after premature birth.
She and her team have worked in partnership with Bliss and the National Childbirth Trust (NCT) to ensure that the voices of babies and families were heard and put at the centre of this project. The main research findings are now due to be presented at a symposium on 1 November to be held at the Albert Hall Conference Centre in Nottingham.
Lifetime support award : Dianne Bennett
Dianne became involved with Bliss after becoming mother to three premature babies. Her oldest son Huw was born four weeks early. Her second son, Sam, was born 13 weeks early by emergency caesarean section after Dianne unexpectedly went into labour; sadly Sam died at six hours old. Then her daughter Carys was also born 13 weeks early.
After the devastation of losing Sam and the euphoria of bringing Carys home from hospital, Dianne wanted to do something to pay back the huge debt of gratitude she felt for the excellent neonatal care her daughter had received. She joined Bliss in 1984, quickly becoming a Trustee – a role she faithfully fulfilled until 2006.
Dianne continues to organise an annual Charities Fair and also runs a thriving knitting scheme with 227 members from the Haslemere area. Each year they make hundreds of little cot covers, sets of clothes and Christmas stockings that are donated to hospitals all over the south of England and beyond.
There was a very personal reason the show played host to Bliss, after Joe Brookes, Social Media Officer for show organisers Blooming Marvellous Events Ltd, and his wife Emily received support and information from Bliss. We helped them when Emily gave birth to their oldest son Stanley, now four years old, who was born prematurely, and then again when their youngest son Ezra was born full term in 2015, but then developed serious health problems. Read Joe and Emily’s story on our website.
How the day unfolded: