Mum’s donation is warm thanks to QA baby unit

6/8/2011 (RH)''Nicola Benson (32) with her daughter Emma Benson now 17 months old who was born premature weighing just 1lb 3oz. Nicola has had knitted 471 tank tops for premature and sick babies at Queen Alexandra Hospital's neonatal intensive care unit. ''Picture: Sarah Standing (112749-6872)
6/8/2011 (RH)''Nicola Benson (32) with her daughter Emma Benson now 17 months old who was born premature weighing just 1lb 3oz. Nicola has had knitted 471 tank tops for premature and sick babies at Queen Alexandra Hospital's neonatal intensive care unit. ''Picture: Sarah Standing (112749-6872)
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WHEN baby Emma Benson was born eight weeks early, staff at Queen Alexandra Hospital did everything they could to ensure she got the best start to life.

Weighing just 1lb 13oz, Emma spent almost two months on the hospital’s neonatal unit where her mother Nicky said she received the very best of care.

Now as a thank you to the hospital Mrs Benson has donated more than 470 tiny knitted baby cardigans to the special baby unit.

Mrs Benson, 32, from Stubbington, said: ‘The staff on the neonatal unit were amazing. We are so grateful to them.

‘Donating these cardigans was a way of saying thank you to them and helping parents whose babies have to spend time on the ward.’

The cardigans were knitted by members of the community in Mrs Benson’s hometown of Stroud in Gloucestershire.

Mrs Benson said: ‘When Emma was on the unit I really struggled to find clothes to fit her because she was so small.

‘I mentioned this to my parents in Stroud.

‘They then bought me a sewing machine from a local sewing shop so I could make clothes small enough for Emma.

‘The woman who owns the shop also gave me a sewing lesson and I told her about it being a struggle to find clothes.

‘She then put out a plea for people to help knit cardigans for premature babies so we could give them to the unit at QA.’

Mrs Benson is one of hundreds of parents whose babies end up needing a stay on the neonatal unit at QA.

Baby Emma, who is now 17 months old, had to be delivered early by caesarean section because Mrs Benson had not felt her moving for almost a fortnight.

She is one of about 600 babies who are cared for on the unit every year.

Mrs Benson said: ‘It’s nice to know that these cardigans will help a lot of babies like Emma and save parents the worry and stress of having to find such tiny clothes.’

Jeanette Barnes, senior staff nurse on the neonatal unit at QA, said staff were overwhelmed with the cardigan donation.

She said: ‘We are always grateful for donations like this – especially such big donations.

‘It’s things like little cardigans for babies that make a difference.’

Most of the equipment on the neonatal ward at QA is NHS funded.

But things such as blankets, clothes and home comforts for the parents’ rooms are funded through donations.

If you would like to make any clothes and blankets for the unit email jeanette.barnes@porthosp.nhs.uk.

If you would like to make a cash donation, email diane.urquhart@porthosp.nhs.uk.