Fun day to raise funds for Willow and Reuben

Haanagh Smith (left) with son Reuben and Gemma Scotney with her daughter Willow
Haanagh Smith (left) with son Reuben and Gemma Scotney with her daughter Willow
Portsmouth & Southsea railway station by Andy Cooper

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They are special days that two families feared they would never see.

But toddlers Willow Scotney-Williams and Reuben Smith will both be celebrating their second birthdays in November.

The pair were born prematurely, two days apart, at Queen Alexandra Hospital in Cosham.

Willow was born 10 weeks early and was diagnosed with a brain haemorrhage, followed by hydrocephalus – water on the brain – and had to undergo nine operations.

Willow, who also has cerebral palsy and is almost completely blind, had to spend the first six months of her life in hospital.

But against the odds she has fought through and managed to celebrate her first birthday at home.

Mum Gemma Scotney, 29, of Portchester Road, North End, said it was a traumatic time for the family.

In a cot near to Willow at the QA was Reuben Smith, who was born two days later.

Mum Haanagh Smith, 33, said: ‘Reuben is actually a twin. Sometimes with twins one gets stronger than the other because they are getting more food from the placenta.

‘That’s what happened with me – Reuben was getting bigger and his brother Zachary wasn’t.

‘So at 29 weeks doctors said it would be safer for the babies to be delivered.’

Rueben was born weighing just 3lb, while Zach was even smaller at 2lb.

At first both babies were doing well, but then a 10 day ultrasound found Reuben had suffered from a massive brain haemorrhage.

‘He didn’t have to have operations like Willow did,’ added Haanagh, of Saffron Way, Whiteley.

‘But he was diagnosed with quadriplegic cerebral palsy.

‘Zach has had meningitis twice and is severely deaf, but he does not have cerebral palsy.

‘The first year was a complete rollercoaster of emotions and lots of medical treatment.

‘Now both Reuben and Willow need lots of things, such as a wheelchair in the future, that the NHS can’t provide.’

Family friend and neo-natal nurse Kellie Allen suggested a fundraiser should be held to try and get them the much-needed equipment.

A family fun day is taking place on Saturday, October 8, at St Mary’s Church, Fratton Road in Portsmouth, from 11am to 3pm.

There will be stalls selling cakes, cards and bric-a-brac.

Children will be entertained with face-painting and live music.

A tombola and raffle will also be held, with money split between the families.