Olympic gold medallist Laura Kenny was among a host of sports stars inspired to help the parents of a premature baby girl raise money for the Rotherham Hospital and Community Charity.
Lydia Webb spent the first 11 weeks of her life being cared for by dedicated nurses and doctors on the Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU) at Rotherham Hospital after she was born at 29 weeks on 11 August 2016. She suffered a collapsed lung and anaemia, which required round the clock care.
Lydia’s parents Jenni and Gary Webb, of Grange Road in Rotherham, have spent the first 10 months of her life raising £8,500 for the Rotherham Hospital and Community Charity.
The money has enabled the Special Care Baby Unit to purchase three electric breast pumps, which allow mums to express milk more quickly. The money also funded two High Flow machines, which help premature babies breathe more easily by reducing the pressure on their tiny lungs.
Jenni, 31, a Head and Neck Cancer Nurse Specialist at The Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Lydia is our first baby and although one in seven babies on average do arrive early, you don’t want to dwell on the possibility it could happen to you. It was an incredibly difficult time for us.
“It was daunting leaving her but comforting knowing that she was at Rotherham Hospital, so close to home. Nothing was too much trouble for the team and they understood the small things really mattered, even if we wanted to call and check on her at 1am. They sent us photographs of her first bath, created footprints and left us photos if she’d done something funny or new during the night.
“The way they care for babies and their families is phenomenal and we wanted to give something back to show the hospital and my colleagues how much we appreciate them.”
Gary, a coach for Sheffield United’s Community Foundation
, raised the money by taking part in the Windsor and Sheffield Half Marathons and by utilising his sporting contacts to glean raffle and auction prizes. These included signed football shirts, boots and match tickets from Sheffield United, Derby Football Club and Manchester United. Football heroes such as Cyrus Christie and Michael Carrick donated their shirts.
The couple also approached Laura Kenny’s team to ask for her support after Lydia was born on the same day Laura won two gold medals in the Team Pursuit and Omnium for Team GB at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. Laura has also gone on to become one of Britain’s most successful track cyclists and Olympians after also recovering from a collapsed lung when she was a baby.
Laura donated a signed Team GB shirt to the Webb family, which is now proudly displayed on the Special Care Baby Unit alongside a photo of Lydia.
Gary, also 31, said: “When Lydia arrived early, I felt really helpless. You imagine your baby being born instigating a massive change in your lives, with feeding times, nappy changes and getting up in the night. But she was in an incubator for nearly three months and there was nothing I could really do but be here to support her and Jenni.
“Raising money was something positive for me to focus on and to give something back to the staff on the Special Care Baby Unit who worked tirelessly to care for her.
“We are really lucky to have such incredibly friends, family and work colleagues who understood how important the fundraising was to us and have been really generous.
“We’re incredibly proud to have funded this equipment and hope that it helps give other babies the same opportunities and care Lydia received. We also hope that Laura’s framed shirt displayed on the ward will inspire and reassure other parents who, like us, may spend a lot of time waiting until their babies were strong enough to go home.”
Kathryn Parke, Ward Manager for the Special Care Baby Unit, added: “We are incredibly grateful to Jenni, Gary, their family and friends for their fabulous fundraising efforts.
It’s amazing to see how dedicated and enthusiastic they are about raising money to help other poorly babies like Lydia in future. The support they received from the sporting community is also really inspiring and without it we wouldn’t be able to purchase the extra equipment.”
For more information about the Rotherham Hospital and Community Charity please contact Suzanne Rutter on 01709 426821 or via Charity@rothgen.nhs.uk