Read the story of Bliss volunteer, Helen Jackson, who arranged for presents to be delivered to families of the premature and sick babies spending Christmas in neonatal units in her area:
On Wednesday 23 December, sock monkeys with personal messages and birth certificates were handed out to parents of premature and sick babies staying in Leeds General Infirmary (LGI), Harrogate District Hospital and St James’s University Hospital.
The deliveries were organised by Helen Jackson, with the help of Bliss volunteers on the day, after her five-year-old son Thomas was born nine weeks prematurely in 2010, weighing just 2lb 14oz.
Helen said: “Having a baby in special care is very isolating at any time of the year but Christmas is somewhat more difficult for families, especially those with siblings to consider too. We were very lucky to bring Thomas home two weeks before his first Christmas and our hearts go out to those who will be spending the day at the side of their baby. We hope these gifts brought them a little bit of joy.”
This is the third year Helen has delivered gifts to local neonatal units for Christmas
The sock monkeys were provided by Tilly Tally, Baby Design Furniture, and were kindly sponsored by local families of premature and sick babies, as well as generous individuals and local businesses, including R&C Cooper Transport, who sponsored 40 of the 94 teddies.
The company’s founders, Richard and Catherine Cooper, have a three year old daughter, Francesca, who was born 13 weeks prematurely on Christmas Day in 2012.
Catherine Cooper said: “When our own daughter was born prematurely we received a stocking of gifts hung on her incubator. We still have all of those presents and we felt it was such a kind gesture that we wanted to try and give something back to families in a similar position this year.”
Helen Jackson, said: “I’d like to thank Tilly Tally Baby Design Furniture for supporting Bliss for the 3rd year running and a huge thank you goes out to all the sponsors too. We couldn’t have managed it without them.”
Helen volunteers for Bliss in Leeds, regularly visiting LGI and St James’s University Hospital to provide advice and support to the parents of special care babies staying on the hospitals’ neonatal units. Helen has also raised thousands of pounds for Bliss in the past and runs the Bliss Leeds Facebook page.
Chief Executive of Bliss, Caroline Davey, said: “We are hugely grateful to volunteers like Helen who play such a crucial role in supporting the parents of premature and sick babies. As well as spreading festive cheer, our volunteers provide vital face-to-face support to parents with babies in hospital, answer calls on our helpline, and help raise money and awareness for Bliss throughout the year.”
The online Leeds-based baby and toddler shop, Tilly Tally, has supported Helen by supplying her with gifts to give to parents with babies in hospital for the past three years.
Nicola Carney, founder of Tilly Tally, says: “The first year we supplied 30 pairs of preemie socks and the second year we supplied sock monkeys to LGI. This year we've smashed our target and can now supply three neonatal units. Next year, who knows? We are looking into more regular sponsored donations.”
Helen has also received a donation of 100 Mr Christmas - Mr Men books from Just Books in Otley, which will be given to the hospital, and red and white wool for people to knit premature baby hats from Wharfedale Embroidery in Otley.
Asda in Otley have also donated a large hamper in recognition of the amazing work of the staff at LGI. Bliss will be included in the supermarket’s green token scheme, so could receive a donation of up to £200 if the charity receives the most nominations from customers in store.
We’re hugely grateful to Helen for the amazing work she has done in organising these deliveries, and to everyone who supplied or sponsored her gifts.
Bliss volunteers have been visiting units up and down the country over the festive period to offer advice and guidance to parents of premature and sick babies, and some have also arranged for cards and presents to be handed out in the units.
If you’d like to support premature and sick babies this festive period, we’d love it if you could donate to our Christmas appeal by visiting bliss.org.uk/christmas-appeal-2015