Students raise funds for babies charity after teacher goes into labour during class

Students at St John Rigby College
Students at St John Rigby College
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A teacher who gave lessons while in premature labour has praised her students after they were inspired to raise money for charity.

Joanne Speight was only 26 weeks into the pregnancy and did not realise she was having contractions.

Joanne Speight with baby Jessica

Joanne Speight with baby Jessica

She spent the day teaching business at St John Rigby College in Orrell, before going to hospital and giving birth the next day.

Mrs Speight, 34, said: “It was a case of waking up that morning with what I thought was muscular pain that’s normally associated with pregnancy. I didn’t actually realise that I was in labour.

“I continued my day as normal and my lessons as normal.”

But when the college day was over, she decided to phone the hospital at around 4pm as she was starting to become concerned.

She said: “When I went in, they told me I was in labour and had been all day. What I thought were muscular pains in fact were contractions.”

Doctors at Wigan Infirmary tried to stop the labour, but they were not successful and baby Jessica was born the next day, on June 28.

Mrs Speight, who is married to Andrew, said: “She was 1lb 14oz when she was born. Thankfully the doctors had said to us that she was a bit bigger and heavier than they were expecting, which would work in her favour.

“She needed a lot of help in terms of breathing support and she was looked after immediately by the neonatal unit and the team there.”

Jessica was transferred to the neonatal unit at Royal Bolton Hospital, where she spent three-and-a-half weeks before returning to Wigan Infirmary for a further 10 weeks.

Mrs Speight praised the team in Wigan, saying: “They were amazing. I have never met such an amazing team of people. They looked after her and myself and my husband extremely well. I can’t fault them.”

Jessica was finally allowed to go home on September 29 - three months after she was born - and it is hoped there will be no long-term impact from her early birth.

Mrs Speight, who lives in Wigan, said: “She has gone from strength to strength. She has grown really well and is putting on weight and her development has been amazing.”

Mrs Speight is currently on maternity leave, but has already visited the college with Jessica, who is her first child.

And she returned on Friday afternoon with her daughter to surprise students who were taking part in a sponsored walk in her honour.

Year 13 students on a BTEC business course - who were in her last lesson on the day she was in labour - decided to do something to raise money after Jessica’s birth.

They organised a 5km sponsored walk in aid of Three Wishes’ Children And Babies Fund, which supports Wrightington, Wigan And Leigh NHS Foundation Trust’s paediatric and neonatal wards.

Mrs Speight said: “They have been so wonderful and so kind. Once they found out what had happened, I know they were really concerned about myself and my husband and Jessica and I know they have been asking about her.

“They are such an amazing group of young people and for them to do something so selfless for others is amazing.”

Around 20 students took part in the walk along the River Douglas, joined by two members of staff.

They have so far raised more than £400 for the appeal, smashing their initial target of £300.

Mrs Speight said: “I don’t think they fully appreciate how wonderful their donation is going to be for the unit. It’s going to go a long way to helping a lot of families and babies.

“Having seen it and lived it first-hand, I know how important charitable support is to the unit.”

There is still time to sponsor the students by going to www.justgiving.com/fundraising/btecbusiness or texting NXAX53 £1 to 70070.