A MUM whose baby spent over two months at Salisbury Hospital’s Neonatal Unit is taking on a walking challenge to give something back.
Hayley Howell’s son, Fletcher, was born 11 weeks early in October last year. During his stay at the unit, Hayley and her partner, David Hart, were able to stay close by in the Stars Appeal’s accommodation for parents.
Now, she is set to take on the charity’s Walk for Wards event in a bid to give something back to the appeal.
“We spent just over two months on the Neonatal Unit and stayed in the parents’ accommodation,” Hayley said. “We kept saying we completely understand if we need to go but there was never any question about us having to go.
“It was comforting for me having David there,” added Hayley, who later moved into one of the Stars Appeal’s mum and baby rooms after Fletcher’s condition improved.
Mum and baby rooms provide a private space where they can stay together and the Stars Appeal recently funded the construction of two more of these rooms, bringing the total to six, alongside four larger, en-suite ‘family’ rooms.
Hayley is taking part in the Walk for Wards, at Wilton House on July 9, with her family and will be part of a group of 15.
She said she wanted to do something to ‘be able to give back’ for all the support they received during Fletcher’s time in hospital.
Fletcher is now doing well, but 34-year-old Hayley, from Amesbury, said him going to the Neonatal Unit was ‘scary at first’.
“I got to the point where I thought ‘I don’t think I can do this anymore’ but they (the staff) helped me keep going,” she said. “The nurses and everybody on the unit were fantastic.
“We nearly lost Fletcher a couple of weeks after he was born. He got a common cold and where he was so little it stopped him breathing. I was there on my own and remember the staff comforting me. They were so caring about us as parents, as well as looking after our baby.”
Hayley also praised the support for parents provided by the Stars Appeal, Salisbury District Hospital’s Charity, to ease the stress of having a child in the Neonatal Unit, including free aromatherapy sessions which she says were a ‘God send’ and the musicians who play lullabies to the babies.
“These activities do the world of good for mums on the unit,” she said. “It is something good to look forward to. The little extras are amazing.
“Fletcher is my miracle baby. To lose him was unthinkable as it took us so long to conceive him. He is my world.
“That Neonatal Unit is absolutely amazing.”
To find out more and to register for the Walk for Wards, go to starsappeal.org/event/walk-for-wards.