Three years after their gorgeous girl died from a rare genetic condition, dedicated couple Steven and Maya McCormack are ready to open a nursery for other youngsters and parents in a similar position.
The pair started fundraising after little Laila Milly was diagnosed with Aicardi syndrome - and vowed to continue despite her death the day before her first birthday in March 2011.
They launched the Laila Milly Foundation to fund the nursery, at the back of McCormack’s Opticians on Kirkby Road in Hemsworth. Incredibly they managed to raise around £165,000 and will officially open the facility on Sunday, August 31.
Maya, 32, said they are hoping the nursery will help up to 80 families who have children with serious and complex illnesses in the Wakefield, Five Towns and south east area.
She said: “We are running on a self referral scheme and are hoping families will just give us a ring and come and have a look round to see if we can help them.
“We are offering the service for children up to five-years-old and we will be looking at different types of activities that families might not be able to access otherwise, such as baby massage. With Laila, we had to haul around a portable oxygen tank, a secretion machine and all her emergency meds and it can be quite daunting to walk into a normal group with all that.
“Especially if your child has a life shortening condition, to see the other families with their babies there can be upsetting. We want to offer somewhere safe and inviting, where everyone is in a similar position and nobody feels uncomfortable. We can offer somewhere to make children’s lives a bit happier, parents lives a bit easier, somewhere to make good memories during the time the children have.”
Steven and Maya, now of Conisborough Way in Hemsworth, have spent more than three years raising funds and renovating the building to meet their needs. The couple said they were excited that they are finally ready for opening.
Maya said: “We took some time out when Reuben was born - we only had a year with Laila and wanted to make the most of it all. But now everything is pretty much done and we are ready.
“It is really exciting and we are looking forward to getting families in here and helping them. Even though we are at the end of getting everything ready, we are at the beginning of a new venture now.
“Initially we will be open on Wednesdays and Fridays while we find our feet but we are going to open throughout the week in time. To start with, parents will stay and play with their children - we felt that families would prefer this until they get to know us. But in six months or a year we will be able to prove this service is needed and then we can access funds for qualified staff and children’s nurses so that parents can leave their children here while they have a break.
“We want to mold the nursery to suit the needs of our families. Once everything is up and running we can see who is using the service and what they want - everything is very flexible.”
The official opening event will take place from 11am to 3pm. Anyone who would like to register with the nursery can email www.lailamillyfoundation.org.uk or call Maya on 07846 986405.