Fund-raising is definitely a family affair for two generous Wiganers supporting the hospital unit which looked after two babies when they had a very difficult start to life.
Lindibeth Lloyd and Nicola Thomas have organised a half-marathon walk to raise money for the neo-natal unit at Wigan Infirmary through the hospital trust’s official charity Three Wishes.
Both are extremely grateful to the staff there as Nicola’s son Oliver was born with Down’s Syndrome and was not breathing when he was delivered and Lindibeth’s son James was six weeks premature and ended up in a battle with meningitis.
The duo have now decided to embark on a major fund-raising programme to help the neo-natal unit and are starting out with a 13.1-mile walk in the borough next month after Lindibeth came up with the idea.
As they are from a big family they have got no fewer than 15 relatives to take on the route and hold collection buckets along the way.
Spring View resident Lindibeth, 25, said: “Without the neo-natal unit we wouldn’t have our children. We can’t say thank you enough.
“What we can do is raise a lot of money to help them do what they did for our children for many other families.
“We’re holding our first fund-raising event on November 17. That is World Prematurity Day so we thought it would be appropriate. The majority of the babies they care for in the neo-natal unit are born premature.”
Nicola, whose partner is Lindibeth’s cousin, was the first to experience the dedication and skill of the neo-natal team in February 2017 when Oliver, who is now two and a half, was born.
Nicola, 40, said: “Oliver was born with Down’s Syndrome and I didn’t know that until he had breathing problems when he was born.
“He was rushed straight to the neo-natal unit. They saved his life, basically.
“He had to be on oxygen for eight months. He was in the unit for a few weeks but then he still needed months and months of care at home. The nurses came out to see me.
“They were so lovely and helpful. I was a mum anyway but having a child with disabilities was daunting.
“If it wasn’t for them I don’t know how I would have coped with the first few weeks of his life.
“You don’t always know what’s going on when you’re in there but the staff are there to ground you and explain everything to you.
“When you think you can’t go on another day they do and they are there.”
Around a year later Lindibeth also ended up in the neo-natal unit when her son James, who is now 15 months and named after his mum’s 91-year-old grandfather, made an unexpected and dramatic early entrance into the world.
A new mum at the time, she ended up confronting something close to every parent’s worse nightmare as he began life fighting a potentially-lethal illness.
Lindibeth said: “I went into labour at my babyshower and he was born six weeks premature.
“He was rushed straight from delivery to the unit and put on an incubator.
“He was really poorly for the first week of his life and they didn’t know what was wrong with him. He had a sky-high temperature and was crying all day every day.
“They did a couple of lumbar punctures on him and found out he had meningitis. That was at six days old.
“When the doctor came in to tell me the diagnosis it was the early hours of the morning, I was a first-time mother and I was on my own.
“It was horrible, my world came crashing down. You hear the word meningitis and you automatically think the worst. But the nurses were there and they calmed me down, reassured me and put me back together.
“He was then on really strong antibiotics on a drip for three weeks. He had to have a different cannula pretty much every day because he was so small.
They had to keep him topped up with milk through a tube in his stomach.
“It was very difficult, but the staff were able to deal with me being stressed and really anxious every day while also doing their job of caring for the babies.”
Both Lindibeth and Nicola highly praised one particular staff member, Dr Christos Zippitis, for the way he helped in both James and Oliver’s care.
Nicola also stayed in the family room on the unit, which enables new mums to be with their children overnight in a home-like environment while still having the expert nurses on call should they be needed.
Lindibeth and Nicola said they launched their fund-raising campaign after finding out the neo-natal unit was in need of cash to ensure the staff have up-to-date technology.
Lindibeth said: “It is coming up to 15 years that the unit has been open so a lot of the equipment they use is coming to the end of its life span.
“The nurses told me they were particularly looking for cot warmers for the babies and also apnea monitors. They have an alarm which goes off if the baby doesn’t breathe for 20 seconds.”
They are starting their fund-raising with the walk on the evening of November 17, although the route is yet to be finalised.
As Lindibeth and Nicola come from a family of entertainers they are also hoping to put on a big annual fund-raiser for the hospital charity.
So far their walk has brought in £280. To find out more or donate, visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Lindibeth-Lloyd1