PARENTS of premature babies attended a reunion to celebrate the birth of their children at Queen Alexandra Hospital.
Up to 150 mums and dads packed into the Oasis Centre at the hospital for the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) teddy bear’s picnic as many met with parents and staff for the first time since their difficult births.
The families, marking World Prematurity Day, were treated to snacks and cake donated by Waitrose as well as a special teddy bear cake made and donated by Janice Garrard, of Kestrel’s Tea and Cakery.
The event, now in its fourth year, was also raising vital funds for NICU – with ‘chatty’ staff nurse Sue Billingham undergoing a gruelling 24-hour sponsored silence to generate funds.
Charity Ickle Pickles, which supports NICU, also supplied all the toys for the picnic party.
Carol Buxton, family support team leader, said: ‘The event is to mark World Prematurity Day and also to invite all the babies who were born prematurely at the hospital in the last year back.
‘It’s great for everyone to see how far they have all come in that time and to celebrate their achievement in all they have gone through in that time.
‘We’ve had babies that were born 16 weeks early, which is a long time. It’s good for the mums to met up with people they have not seen since they were on the unit. It’s also nice for them to see some of the staff they have not seen since they gave birth.
‘We’re very grateful for everyone for their support in making this day such a fun and successful occasion. We look forward to continuing the picnic next year, though we may have to get a bigger room for it.’
Parents, meanwhile, have spoken fondly of the picnic meet-up. Mum Laura Chuter, 35, of Farlington, whose baby was born six weeks early, said: ‘It’s lovely to come back and meet other parents who have been through a similar experience to what I had.
‘It’s also nice to see the staff as well for the first time – they were so helpful.’
Catherine Pyle, 33, of Gosport, said her son Ruben was born eight weeks early – with him weighing just 3lb 4oz.
She said: ‘Lots of people made friends on the unit so it’s good to see them all again. It’s nice to see the staff again as well, who did a great job. Ruben is doing really well now so we’re very grateful to them for helping me through my premature birth.’