SLIDESHOW: Family funday in Pontefract to improve services for families with premature babies

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The arrival of a newborn child is supposed to be one of the happiest times in a parent’s life.

But when a child is born poorly or premature those early days can be ‘very hard,’ according to the Supporters of Families and Babies (SOFAB)

The charity - set up two years ago by parents and nurses to support families going through this difficult period - organised a fundraising event at The Grange in Pontefract last weekend.

Families enjoyed a hog roast, craft stalls, face painting and rides.

SOFAB has helped Emma Jackson, whose twins Henry and Amelia were born at 27 weeks, with Henry weighing 2lb 3oz and Amelia 2lb 1oz.

Mrs Jackson, 35, said: “Our whole world was turned upside down with their early arrival. Their elder brother William was just three so we had our hands very full.

“The twins had a very rocky start and Henry was transferred to Leeds at only one week old with an infection, he was very poorly. So we had Amelia in Pontefract, Henry in Leeds and our eldest William at home.

“It was very hard but the nurses on the unit looked after us so well and it was one of the most difficult times we have ever faced.”

After 14 weeks of turmoil, the twins were finally allowed home and their family were reunited.

Mrs Jackson, a primary school teacher, who lives in South Elmsall said: “We are forever grateful to all the staff on the unit. I just wanted to give something back. They didn’t just care for our twins but they cared for us as a whole family.”

Catherine Osborne was in a similar situation when her son Thomas was born five weeks early.

Mrs Osborne, from Pontefract, said: “We spent three weeks with him in hospital. The nurses were great, they pretty much got us through it.”

As a way of giving something back, Mrs Jackson and Mrs Osborne joined SOFAB to help neonatal nurses Louise Peever, Julia Thomas, Jan de Mello and consultant Kath Deakin to raise funds to improve accommodation and services for parents in neonatal units.

Mrs Osborne said: “We have done the flats up in Pinderfields where parents stay. It’s important for families to have somewhere private and comfortable to go to.”

Other units SOFAB have helped so far include St James’ Hospital in Leeds, Harrogate SCBU which used the funds to improve the parent bedroom, and the LGI neonatal unit which used the donation to refurbish rooms where mums can discreetly express milk.

The charity is now hoping to raise more money to further improve services across the district through a range of fundraising activities.

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