Lady Sarra Hoy today begins her new role as official Ambassador for Bliss Scotland, the charity for babies born premature or sick.
Sarra – mum to Callum, who was born prematurely at 29 weeks – will be a major voice for the 5,800 babies born each year in Scotland needing lifesaving neonatal care, and will also help to ensure their families are as involved as possible in their care. Sarra will raise awareness of all that Bliss Scotland can offer them; celebrate the work of Bliss Scotland’s volunteers, campaigners and fundraisers; and champion Bliss Scotland’s support for healthcare professionals and researchers who are caring for babies born premature or sick or striving to improve their lives.
Sarra attended the launch of the Bliss Scotland Baby Report 2017, which found that three quarters of neonatal units in Scotland are failing to meet minimum safe staffing levels. In January she visited the neonatal unit at the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, and regularly shares her own experiences on social media to support parents and families with babies currently receiving neonatal care.
Sarra says: “Since our dark days in neonatal intensive care with Callum, I have learned so much about having a premature baby. Many of these babies are born much earlier than Callum was and I understand how fortunate we are to have had such a positive outcome.
“Having a baby on a neonatal unit can be a very lonely experience, yet thousands of families go through this every year. I look back now and realise that all the emotions I went through, including the ones I barely dared to verbalise, were not unusual. In fact they were very typical. I wasn't alone after all.
“This is why I am such a proud and passionate supporter of the work Bliss Scotland does. They provide information and advice, and offer essential emotional support, both on the neonatal unit itself and beyond. All of this empowers parents and families, which in turn helps them to care for their babies, in a situation where they often feel powerless and out of control.
“The more we can do to let families of babies in neonatal care know that they are not alone, then the better the outcome for their babies. I am looking forward to what lies ahead and can't wait to start this journey with Bliss Scotland.”
Sarra – a lawyer by profession and wife of hero Olympian cyclist Sir Chris Hoy MBE – became unwell at only 27 weeks whilst pregnant with Callum, who had to be delivered 11 weeks early by emergency caesarean section. He weighed just 2lbs 2oz and spent 60 days in neonatal care. Happily, today Callum is a thriving two year old toddler, but Sarra remembers:
“He looked like a frail little bird that had fallen from its nest. From nowhere, I was signed up and given lifelong membership to a club I never wanted to join, nor even imagined existed. I was utterly terrified by what I saw and was scared at what the future held for us all.”
Caroline Lee-Davey, Bliss Scotland Chief Executive, says: “We’re thrilled to welcome Sarra on board as Bliss Scotland’s new ambassador. Ensuring the voices of premature and sick babies and their families are heard is such an important part of our work and having Sarra on our team to help us achieve this will make a huge difference.”
West Lothian-based mum Coady Dorman, whose two and a half year old son Matthew was also born at 29 weeks, met Sarra when she attended the launch of the Bliss Scotland Baby Report 2017 in January. Coady says: “I know Sarra will do a fantastic job to support Bliss Scotland and champion all they do for families like mine. She knows and understands the challenges we face, and has already demonstrated her commitment to supporting us.”
- Families of babies born premature or sick, and those who care for them, can access support from Bliss Scotland online (www.bliss.org.uk/Scotland) or through our UK-wide helpline: 0808 801 0322
For more media information and interviews, please contact Deborah Hyde: firstname.lastname@example.org or 07956 320 486
Read a statement from Sarra on why she supports Bliss.
Notes to Editors:
- Bliss Scotland is the leading charity for babies born premature or sick in Scotland. Bliss Scotland champions the right for every baby born premature or sick to receive the best care. We achieve this by empowering families, influencing policy and practice, and enabling life-changing research. (Registered Scottish Charity SC040878)
- Bliss Scotland is part of Bliss, the UK’s leading charity for babies born premature or sick.
- Every year around 5,800 babies (one in ten) in Scotland require lifesaving neonatal care, because they are born either premature (46%) or sick (54%).
- For more information about the Bliss Scotland Baby Report 2017, please visit: www.bliss.org.uk/babyreportscotland