Tiny Toes charity’s huge thank you to Ashford Borough Council staff

Repton Connect

Staff at the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at the William Harvey Hospital have said a massive thank you to Ashford Borough Council employees who helped raise £1,785.31 for vital equipment used to help care for tiny babies in the unit.

Council staff have been fundraising for the Tiny Toes charity based at the hospital’s neonatal unit. The money raised has been used to buy a Medela Calesca Breast Milk Warmer and also to help furnish bedrooms used by the parents of premature and poorly babies who need to stay there overnight.

The milk warmer cannot be purchased with NHS funding and is priced at £940 + VAT per unit. It reduces the contamination of milk associated with warming in water. It has the option to warm the milk from three different starting temperatures: room, refrigerator and freezer. That means milk can be kept for longer and can have flexible feeding times.

The device is designed to preserve the precious nutrients in milk for longer that means the critical neonate gets the most of it. The milk warmer purchased with staff donations is now in daily use at the unit, with the remainder of the money used to furnish the two new overnight rooms for parents.

The hospital has a special place in the hearts of two council employees who have relied on the baby unit for vital help – Sarah Hartles and Caroline Allsopp, both from Ashford.

Sarah, a Principal Solicitor in the Legal and Democracy team, has three children, Ben, Sophie and Rosie. Both Sophie and Ben were born premature and were cared for in the unit. Sophie was born in December 2015 at just 24 weeks and 6 days, weighing 1lb 8oz. Ben was born in June 2012 at 34 weeks and weighing 5lb 14oz. Little Rosie was born in January this year but nearly went full term so did not need the intensive care that her big brother and sister received.

Systems Development Analyst Caroline Allsopp has a daughter, also called Sophie. She was born in January 2016 at just 31 weeks and 5 days, weighing 3lbs 5oz.

Sarah said Sophie was born over three months prematurely and while statistically it is possible for babies to survive at this gestation, a lot of them don’t, and the only reason that Sophie is now a gorgeous toddler is because of the work of the amazing staff at the Unit.

“Sophie spent three months there and during that time we saw first-hand the dedication and commitment of the staff that care for the babies. They’re an amazing team.”

Sarah explained that Ben was born six weeks early and despite being a good size, his lungs weren’t quite ready for the world and he needed the help of extra oxygen and the staff of the Unit. Ben was in hospital for 10 days and had the same wonderful care as the family experienced two and a half years later with Sophie.

Caroline said: “My daughter Sophie was born 9 weeks early and having had first-hand experience of the amazing work they do at the unit I know just what a huge difference our donation will make for the staff there.”

Final words go to Sister Karen Ayrton and Sister Tina Jones, who both work in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at the William Harvey Hospital.

Tina said: “The Medela Calesca Breast Milk Warmer purchased with this donation is in constant use. It is a vital piece of equipment which has brought real benefits to the babies we care for here.”

Karen said: “We are very grateful to all the staff at Ashford Borough Council who helped to raise this money. Their generosity has also helped to furnish two new bedrooms which have recently been added to the unit to enable the parents of babies to remain close to them.”


The unit now have two milk warmers but are desperate for a third – with up to 25 babies in the unit at any time the machines are in high demand! If you know of anyone that might be able to help with the purchase of another one then please contact their Fundraising and Development Officer at [email protected].

In the last two years staff at Ashford Borough Council have run successful fundraising campaigns for Pilgrims Hospice and Retreat Animal Rescue.


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