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World Prematurity Day (Friday, November 17) will be marked in colourful style by staff at Bradford Royal Infirmary’s Neonatal Unit (NNU).

The unit, part of Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, will celebrate the day with all things purple - the official colour of the day, which raises awareness of preterm birth and the concerns of preterm babies and their families worldwide.

Staff will dress in purple, there will be purple bunting and balloons and even purple treats to eat as well as a raffle and tombola.

Special guests at the event, from 12 noon to 4pm, will include Gemma Collins-Ellis, an ambassador for BLISS, the UK charity working to provide the best possible care and support for all premature and sick babies and their families, and the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress of Bradford, Coun Abid Hussain and Mrs Shahnaz Akhtar.

The awareness day is also perfect opportunity to launch the neonatal unit’s new rucksack welcome packs.

Senior Neonatal Sister, Suzi Minchella said: “The new packs will be given to all mums on arrival in the unit and will contain hats, blankets and nappies for the babies, which encourage parents to get involved with their babies as soon as possible. There will also be basic items for mums such as toiletries.

Welcome packs

“Often mums don’t have time to plan or get organised when babies are brought into the neonatal unit so these items can help. The welcome packs also help to bring a sense of normality to surroundings which at first can seem very daunting.”

Sister Minchella added that families past and present have also been invited to take part in the day.

She said: “It’s lovely to see past families coming back with their babies and young children who are now thriving. It’s also really helpful for families of the babies who are on the unit at present to meet them as it gives them hope and encouragement on what can sometimes be a long journey before they can take their babies home.”

An estimated 15 million babies around the world are born prematurely each year and one million of them do not survive their early birth. Bradford’s neonatal unit cares for around 500 babies each year from around the Yorkshire and Humber region.

On World Prematurity Day, prominent buildings and landmarks in many countries are lit in purple to honour babies born too soon. Among those will be Bradford City Hall, which will turn purple thanks to Bradford Hospitals Children’s Charity (BHCC.)

The charity has also pulled out all the stops to make the day go with a swing, organising many of the events

Special guests

Neonatal Matron, Kelly Young told me: “We are delighted to welcome special guests to the neonatal unit on World Prematurity Day including parents and siblings and colleagues from the wider BTHFT team.

“We have been overwhelmed by the donations we’ve received from the wider community for our raffle and tombola. It has been very touching.”

The unit has also put together an Amazon wish list of equipment that will give the unit a homely feel for parents and babies. It can be found here: http://amzn.to/2mqpgnw

A ‘wish tree’ on which parents can hang handmade tags, recording their hopes and wishes for their babies and the unit is also being planned.

Money raised will be split equally between the Trust’s Children's Charity (Neonatal Trust Fund) and BLISS.